Skip Navigation

Proton Therapy for Your Patients

Dr. Rotondo (left) and Dr. Chen (right) standing with Proton Therapy machine.

Kansas City is Proton Therapy's newest home

The Proton Therapy Center at The University of Kansas Cancer Center, 1 of fewer than 60 National Cancer Institute-designated comprehensive cancer centers in the nation, is the only one of its kind in Kansas, Kansas City and the surrounding region. There are no other proton therapy centers in Kansas or the surrounding states of Iowa, Nebraska, Colorado and Arkansas. Now, your cancer patients and their families no longer need to leave the region to receive this advanced form of targeted radiation treatment.

The best care for your patients.

The University of Kansas Cancer Center is here to assist you in caring for your patients. Call 913-588-5862 to refer.

  • The cancer center has assembled a powerhouse team of proton experts from around the country to ensure your patients receive top-of-the-line care. The team includes nationally and internationally renowned radiation oncologists, medical physicists and dosimetrists. Together, these specialists will create a treatment plan comprising the exact dose, beam angles and patient positioning required to deliver the proton dose to the tumor.
  • While receiving cancer treatments, your patients are our patients, too. The University of Kansas Cancer Center’s disease-dedicated cancer specialists work closely with you and your patients to develop a comprehensive treatment plan tailored to meet their individual needs, because we understand that no 2 people experience cancer the same.

  • Continuity of care is critical for your patient’s treatment and recovery. At The University of Kansas Health System, our dedication to healthcare excellence and patient-focused care means you can send your patients to us with confidence. Our physicians are available for consultation 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

    To schedule a physician-to-physician consult or make a referral:

    • Call 913-588-5862 or toll-free 877-588-5862.
    • Fax us at 913-588-5785.
    • Refer via EpicCare Link.

Proton Therapy Center Virtual Tour

Ronny Rotondo: Welcome to the Proton Therapy Center, Kansas City's first proton center and the 39th proton center in the country. I'm Dr. Ronny Rotondo, medical director of the Proton Therapy Center at The University of Kansas Cancer Center.

Ronald Chen: And I'm Dr. Ronald Chen, chair of radiation oncology. Patients of our Proton Therapy Center receive top of the line care from a team of proton experts unparalleled in their region. This includes nationally and internationally renowned radiation oncologists, medical physicists and dosimetrist.

Ronny Rotondo: These specialists, whom we've recruited from across the country will create a customized treatment plan for each patient. Now, we want to take you inside our NCI comprehensive cancer center's proton therapy center. Here is Jessica Lovell to give you a tour.

Jessica Lovell: Hard at work inside the Proton Therapy Center is a pencil thin beam of light giving new hope to cancer patients across the region and beyond.

Jessica Lovell: Hello, I'm Jessica Lovell and welcome to The University of Kansas Cancer Center. I'm standing in what I like to call, the healing hallway that leads back to the proton treatment room. This is where you'll come after you check in at the front desk.

Jessica Lovell: The dogwoods symbolize rebirth but this wood frame is also symbolic. This curve right here, it's intentional. It represents the Bragg-Peak of the proton beam. The precise point where protons stop on a dime to deliver a prescribed dose of radiation to the tumor but not beyond.

Jessica Lovell: So come along, there's must more to show you.

Jessica Lovell:
These are the changing areas where you will wait for treatment. There's an area for men and women. Children wait in here too but don't worry, they have plenty of ways to entertain themselves prior, in a family waiting area with TV, animated games, floor art and interactive programming they can take with them, even into treatment.

Jessica Lovell: Now before I show you the treatment room, I want you to understand the prep work that happens first. All proton therapy patients go through a process called CT simulation and treatment planning in the radiation pavilion just down the hall. The CT scan provides imaging to precisely localize the tumor that will require proton therapy. Here, some patients may have a couple of tattoo dots placed on their body to indicate where the radiation beam will be directed.

Jessica Lovell: No worries about any other medical devices you might have, your medical team knows what to consider and that's all part of your personalized plan.

Jessica Lovell: Are you ready to see the vault? That's what we call the treatment room. Come with me.

Jessica Lovell: One of the first things you'll see is this video projection wall. Patients can select from 14 different scenic lighting and surround themes. There are calming scenes as well as jungles, oceans and even outer space. It's all customizable for children and adults. The room temperature is kept at 70 degrees. That's because the proton equipment produces a lot of heat.

Jessica Lovell: Notice the subdued lighting. There's wifi for music. You may bring your own playlist or podcast too. The cyclotron that delivers the proton therapy is behind that locked door. The nozzle delivers the pencil thin beam of protons to the patient. The patient lays on the table, this is when the mask is positioned, if you have one. Images are taken, rotating 220 degrees as the treatment can be delivered from multiple angles and then the nozzle is set. The therapists then exit the treatment room and go to the console area to deliver the treatment.

Jessica Lovell: No worries, cameras and microphones mean the therapists can still see and hear you. Your tumor type determines the number of beams and the length of treatment.

Jessica Lovell: There is absolutely no pain from proton therapy. In fact, you can't even feel the proton beam at all.

Jessica Lovell: While treatment deliver takes just a few minutes, on average it takes 30 minutes to position patients perfectly. There is anesthesia for children and adults who may need it.

Jessica Lovell: Once your treatment is done, you may leave unless it's an exam day. Exams with your doctor happen every five treatments or more often as needed.

Jessica Lovell: Okay, there's just one more thing I wanna show you and that's the proton therapy bell that sits across from the nursing station. When your treatments are done, you'll get to ring it and we'll be right there celebrating with you.

Jessica Lovell: Remember, our medical team is a combination of highly skilled and nationally renowned proton therapy experts available in the region only at The University of Kansas Cancer Center and we thank you for trusting us with your cancer care.

Proton Therapy Machine

Proton therapy in Kansas City

Receive lifesaving proton therapy treatment at the region's only proton center.

Learn about proton therapy

Clinical benefits of proton therapy

Proton therapy is the most advanced form of radiation therapy for cancerous tumors currently available. More than 800 clinical studies have been published on proton therapy. Recent research published in the journal JAMA Oncology found that people who have proton therapy are two-thirds less likely to experience side effects requiring hospitalization than people who have traditional X-ray or photon radiation.

Most solid, localized tumors can be treated with proton therapy. This includes tumors in the central nervous system and lymphatic system, as well as recurring tumors. Proton therapy may be a treatment option for a number of adult and pediatric cancers, including cancers of the brain and central nervous system, breast, esophagus, head and neck, liver, lung, lymphatic system, eyes, pancreas, prostate, bone and others.

High-level benefits

  • Focused, precise radiation
  • Less damage to nearby healthy tissue
  • Fewer short- and long-term side effects
  • Lower risk of secondary cancers
  • Increased quality of life

Why us?

  • We have the experts. As an NCI-designated comprehensive cancer center, we have renowned cancer experts who bring vast knowledge and experience to help patients conquer cancer. That expertise also exists in using proton therapy as a tool to help your patients fight cancer.
  • We believe in comprehensive care. When you choose us for your patients’ proton therapy treatment, they'll receive personalized, precision medicine from a multidisciplinary team that no one else in the region has the expertise to do. Your patients and you will be part of their care plan – from start to finish.
  • We are leaders in research. Providing this innovative treatment at the health system gives us unlimited opportunities to continue research and clinical trials on proton therapy for new and expanded uses in the future. Proton therapy benefits adult and pediatric patients alike and further advances our research and education missions as one of the nation’s leading cancer centers.

Region's first proton therapy center

The University of Kansas Health System is building the region’s first proton therapy center. Proton therapy is an advanced form of targeted radiation treatment using protons – instead of x-rays – to attack cancerous tumors.

Bob Page: If there's a point of pride here it's that we have now earned the right to be spoken in the same sentence as the Hopkins, the Cleveland Clinic, Mayo Clinic, MD Anderson, Mass General. And rightfully so.

Speaker 1: The University of Kansas Health System will be the first in the region to provide proton therapy. This type of therapy allows for more pinpointed treatment for cancer patients.

Bob Page: Proton therapy is one of the most advanced forms of radiation therapy for cancer patients.

Speaker 1: But until now, not easy for patients in the Kansas City metro or Midwest region to access. Currently, there are only 29 proton therapy centers nationwide.

Tammy Peterman: There are times when patients have to leave Kansas City for some of the most advanced treatments, such as proton. We don't want that to happen. We believe that with this announcement today we can keep even more patients here in Kansas City, closer to home, as they receive care.

Speaker 1: Proton therapy is a pencil-size beam that differs from regular radiation treatment by killing the cancer without harming nearby healthy tissue.

Terry Tsue: This type of a particle, which is a proton particle, part of the nucleus, is delivered to the patient, and then when it hits the cancer all of its energy is dissipated in killing that cancer. Other types of radiation then go on beyond that cancer and can cause damage in normal tissue.

Speaker 1: Proton therapy is FDA approved and covered by Medicare, Medicaid, and most insurance companies. More important, research has demonstrated its effectiveness with minimal side effects, plus proton therapy has been shown to lower the risk of secondary cancers in patients. In 18-24 months this new technology will be available here for both adult and pediatric patients.

Roy Jensen: Pediatric cancer, we've made incredible progress against this disease. Back in the 1960s maybe 10% of kids survived pediatric cancer, and now it's well over 80%, and depending on the type of cancer it's over 90%.

Narrator: Hospital leaders say bringing proton therapy to the University of Kansas Health System represents a multimillion-dollar commitment to this region, guided by a singular focus.

Bob Page: Put the patient in the center of your decision making. Put all your efforts around what's the right thing to do for the patients. Put the technology around it, you put the resources around that. This is just another step in that process.

Speaker 1: The process of changing how healthcare is delivered today and in the future.

Related links