Career Awareness

December 21, 2015

Strong demand for Proton Beam Therapy in Rochester; Arizona program to open in March

By Career Awareness

proton-beam-therapy121115Strong demand for Proton Beam Therapy in Rochester; Arizona program to open in March

Learn how Proton Beam Therapy colleagues in Rochester and Arizona team together to provide more seamless treatment and comfort for patients while improving workflow and process.

In its first six months of operation, the Proton Beam Therapy program in Rochester has commenced treatment for 93 patients as young as 15 months and as old as 85 years from 20 states and three countries outside the U.S.

Proton Beam Therapy patient data includes:

  • Seventy-two patients have completed treatment.
  • The median patient age was 42.5 years.
  • Seventy-four percent were adults; 26 percent were children.
  • Fifty-four percent were female; 46 percent were male.
  • The conditions treated most were brain tumors (malignant and benign), breast cancer and prostate cancer. Others include head and neck cancer, sarcoma, lymphoma, esophageal cancer, liver cancer and anal cancer.
  • Seventeen percent of patients had prior radiation therapy.
  • Most patients have between 25 and 33 treatments.

Due to the strong demand, the Proton Beam Therapy program will open a third treatment room in December — several weeks earlier than expected. A fourth treatment room will open in summer 2016.

In 2016, the program will begin treating lung cancer, pancreatic cancer and some gynecologic cancers.

“We’ve been surprised by the number of pediatric patients and the variety of conditions they represent,” says Robert Foote, M.D., Radiation Oncology, who is the proton beam medical director in Rochester. “From craniopharyngiomas and anaplastic pleomorphic xanthoastrocytoma to gangliogliomas, most of the pediatric cases and many of the inoperable brain cases we’ve had are rare conditions. It’s gratifying to be able to offer this treatment to those patients.”

The Rochester team is sharing its experiences with the Proton Beam Therapy team in Arizona. The Arizona program opens in March.

“We’ve learned a lot about how to make treatment more seamless for patients, increase patient comfort, and improve workflows and processes,” says Katie Halda, Radiation Oncology.

The proton beam radiation therapists from Arizona spent a week in Rochester observing their colleagues in action. Also, physicians, anesthesiologists, physicists and a child-life specialist from Arizona have spent time in Rochester observing workflows. Team members from Rochester will spend time in Arizona assisting as that program prepares to open.

Arizona program to see patients in March


The Proton Beam Therapy program in Arizona is on schedule to begin treating patients in mid-March and already has patients waiting to begin treatment.

Mayo Clinic in Arizona introduced pediatric radiation oncology services in 2013 in preparation for providing proton beam therapy. 

“Children are one of the groups for whom proton beam therapy is most beneficial, and we didn’t previously treat children,” says Sameer Keole, M.D., Radiation Oncology, who is the proton beam medical director in Arizona. “Now, we’ve treated more than 100 children with traditional radiation oncology and have perfected the special aspects of care they require, including anesthesia and child-life services. We’re ready and eager to begin treating all types of patients who will benefit from proton beam therapy in just a few short months.”

The Arizona Proton Beam Therapy program is on the concourse level of the new Mayo Clinic Building — Phoenix, which houses the Integrated Cancer Center.

Grand opening activities for the Cancer Center and Proton Beam Therapy program are scheduled for Feb. 18–20.


Photo (left to right):Sheree Nelson, Nancy Heinzelman, Charlie Adams, Katelyn Christopherson, Daniel Ma, M.D., and Bret Kazemba.

Related: Child Life Specialist >> Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist >> Radiography program >> What is Proton Beam Therapy? >> Proton Beam Therapy Career Stories

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