The Mayo Clinic plans to build a carbon ion treatment facility to fight cancer at its Jacksonville campus, which Mayo says would be the first of its kind in North America.
Carbon ion therapy has the potential to destroy cancer cells and tumors that are resistant to more traditional radiation therapy methods, without damaging surrounding tissue, said Steven Buskirk, chairman of Mayo’s radiation oncology department in Jacksonville.
Carbon ions are 12 times the weight and size of proton ions and may be more effective for certain types of tumors, Buskirk said. “It seems to be a much more destructive type of beam,” he said.
The technology will be part of Mayo’s integrated oncology facility, announced in June, which will include also include chemotherapy, standard radiation and proton beam therapy.
Kent Thielen, CEO of the Jacksonville campus, said construction of that center will begin within the next year. Proton beam therapy should be available there by 2025, with carbon ion treatment coming shortly after that, he said.
Proton therapy, a targeted treatment for cancer patients, has been available at UF Health Proton Therapy Institute since 2006 and the Ackerman Cancer Center in Jacksonville since 2015. It was introduced at Mayo campuses in Rochester, Minn., in 2015 and Phoenix in 2016.
A Mayo press release says that an outdated form of carbon ion therapy was developed in the U.S. in the 1970s and was used for research purposes. So far, though, the technology is available at just a few centers in Asia and Europe.
Thielen said Mayo has been assessing the therapy for 10 years and has partnered with Hitachi, a Japanese company, to bring it to the U.S. He called it a “very promising technology” that will be part of an arsenal of approaches to battling cancer.
Buskirk said more study is needed, which the Jacksonville center will able to provide. Some tumors seem to be more resistant to other radiotherapy techniques, he said, so exploring carbon ion treatment further could prove fruitful.
Matt Soergel: (904) 359-4082