KU Health System has new proton therapy unit

One hundred fifty-five tons of proton therapy equipment for the University of Kansas Health System arrived on Tuesday in the Kansas City area.

The proton therapy gantry and cyclotron will be at the KU Cancer Center.

Proton therapy, according to doctors at KU Health System, is best for certain types of cancers.

Next year the proton beam therapy program should begin at the KU Cancer Center, according to Dr. Ronny Rotondo, medical director of proton therapy.

A 7-year-old boy from Olathe, Kansas, who had cancer near his left eye, recently received proton beam therapy because this sort of treatment results in less radiation in tissues around the tumor. The Olathe boy’s family had to travel to the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota for about two months to receive the treatment, which was successful. The boy returned to school last fall.

Dr. Rotondo said the treatment is suited toward children and it also works as well for adults. It’s ideal for 20 to 30 percent of patients. Unlike radiation, the depth and focus of a beam can be controlled to minimize or eliminate damage to healthy vital tissues and organs, according to Dr. Rotondo.

Dr. Terry Tsue, physician in chief and vice president of clinical services at the University of Kansas Cancer Center, said patients do better when they get the best treatment close to home. Many head and neck cancer patients will benefit, he said.

As one of only 38 proton therapy units in the nation, the KU Cancer Center unit will open early next year, he said.

The COVID-19 pandemic has kept a lot of people from routine screenings, and that may have a big effect for years to come as patients could have more advanced cancers that weren’t caught early, he said.

For more information about the proton therapy treatment, visit https://www.facebook.com/kuhospital/videos/305365270949322.

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