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Heard on the Street: Mayo Clinic's Phoenix proton center to open in March

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A second Mayo Clinic proton therapy facility — a $182 million center in Phoenix — is planning to open in March.

Mayo Clinic's $188 million proton therapy center in Rochester opened on June 23, and it's had twice as many patients as originally projected, Mayo officials have said.

While proton therapy is typically more expensive than more standard treatments, the Mayo Clinic relies on private donations to help fund the centers, meaning treatment costs are lower -- roughly what the same that it charges for typical radiation treatment.

"We have taken all the risk on this," Dr. Sameer Keole, a radiation oncologist and center director, told The Arizona Daily Star.

The facility's officials estimate that 1,200 patients will eventually be treated annually there, according to The Star. The new center will make it more convenient to receive this cutting edge treatment for patients in Arizona. At present, the closest proton therapy centers are in Texas and California.

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"While it is important for patients to explore all available treatment options with their physician, to determine what approach is best for their unique condition, we are fortunate that patients no longer have to travel out of state to access this remarkable technology, which provides targeted treatment to cancer cells while minimizing damage to healthy tissue," Tucson Medical Center's chief medical officer, Dr. Rick Anderson, told the paper.

Proton beam therapy has hit headwinds as it is more expensive than conventional therapy for many cancers and disorders, and some insurers, such as UnitedHealth Group and Aetna, have stopped covering it for prostate cancer, at one time a major source of patients for the therapy, according to the Wall Street Journal.

Competition is heating up as more centers are coming online. In fact, six centers are set to open by the end of 2015 in the U.S. and 10 others by the end of 2018, according to the Wall Street Journal. This will bring the national total to 30, with an average price tag of between $100 million and $200 million, according to Health Care Business Daily News. — Staff reports

Related Topics: MAYO CLINIC
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