Proton Therapy Coming to Kansas City

ProteusONE proton therapy machine.

July 09, 2019

The University of Kansas Health System will join an elite group of health systems and hospitals by becoming the first in the region to provide lifesaving proton therapy in Kansas City to cancer patients. The highly specialized form of radiation treatment will be offered through The University of Kansas Cancer Center, the region’s only National Cancer Institute-designated cancer center. Adults and children from throughout Kansas and the surrounding region will benefit from the addition of proton therapy.

Proton therapy is an advanced form of radiation treatment that uses a highly precise beam of protons – instead of X-rays – to attack cancerous tumors. Proton therapy deposits radiation directly into the tumor, destroying cancer cells while sparing surrounding tissues and vital organs.

Standard radiation therapy uses X-rays and deposits most of the radiation dose immediately upon entering the body while traveling to the tumor. After depositing radiation in the tumor, the X-rays continue traveling through the body and delivering unnecessary radiation to healthy tissues and organs.

With proton therapy, protons slowly deposit their energy as they travel toward the cancerous tumor. Protons deliver most of the radiation dose directly into the tumor and travel no further through the body. Simply put, protons stop after depositing the radiation dose in the tumor. X-rays do not.

What is proton therapy?

Proton therapy is widely considered to be the most technologically advanced method of delivering radiation to cancerous tumors available today. Healthy tissues and organs receive less unnecessary radiation, which reduces unwanted complications and side effects.

With this highly personalized care, our cancer specialists can more precisely target treatment with fewer short- and long-term side effects depending on each patient's condition.

Proton therapy is most often used to treat tumors in sensitive areas where conventional radiation therapy may not be the best option. This includes cancers of the breast, brain, central nervous system, esophagus, head and neck, liver, lung, prostate, spine and pediatric cancers. It is also used to treat recurrent tumors that have been treated previously with radiation.

The future of proton therapy in Kansas City

The proton therapy center will be constructed on the main campus of The University of Kansas Hospital, with care provided through our cancer center. We anticipate breaking ground in 2019.

The multimillion-dollar facility will serve approximately 400 patients a year once it is fully operational, with room to expand as demand grows. As 1 of only 70 NCI-designated cancer centers nationwide, The University of Kansas Cancer Center provides highly specialized and exceptional multidisciplinary cancer care. The addition of proton therapy in Kansas City will complement existing treatment options and enhance the cancer center's ability to provide the most comprehensive treatments available.

Currently, there are only 30 proton therapy centers in the United States. There are no centers in Kansas or the surrounding states of Iowa, Nebraska, Colorado and Arkansas.

Some advantages of proton therapy include:

  • Proton therapy is an advanced type of radiation treatment that uses a beam of protons to deliver radiation directly to the tumor, destroying cancer cells while sparing healthy tissues.
  • Protons enter the body with a low radiation dose, stop at the tumor, match its shape and volume or depth and deposit the bulk of their cancer-fighting energy right at the tumor.
  • Proton therapy benefits patients with solid, well-defined tumors, meaning that the cancer has not spread to other parts of the body.
  • Once delivered to the targeted tumor site, proton radiation has a very short life. After receiving treatment, patients can leave the treatment room without any risk of radiation exposure to others.
  • Proton therapy may be used in combination with traditional radiation therapy, chemotherapy and surgery.
  • The therapy will further strengthen our ability to provide patients with comprehensive, world-class cancer care close to home.

Learn more about leading-edge cancer treatments available at the region's only NCI-designated cancer center.

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