March 30, 2021
KANSAS CITY, Kan - The University of Kansas Health System has reached another major milestone in bringing proton therapy to Kansas City.
Proton therapy is an advanced form of targeted radiation treatment that uses protons instead of X-rays to attack cancerous tumors. The lifesaving therapy will be provided through The University of Kansas Cancer Center, the region’s only National Cancer Institute-designated cancer center, beginning in early 2022.
Key components of the equipment, the gantry and cyclotron, arrived at the port of Houston, Texas, from Brussels, Belgium, on February 9. The equipment departed Belgium on January 4 and was at sea for roughly 5 weeks.
Some impressive facts about the equipment, which will spend about a month in port before making its way to Kansas City:
- The cyclotron weighs 55 tons or about as much as 2 Stonehenge Sarsen stones (which are the largest) in Stonehenge.
- The gantry weighs 75 tons or about as much as the space shuttle Endeavour when empty.
- The equipment will travel in a convoy of 6 semi-tractor trailers, leaving Houston later in March, for its 10-day journey to Kansas City.
- The equipment is so massive that it requires a police escort in each state it travels through. Our technology vendor, IBA, works with each state’s Department of Transportation to determine the route through the state and the number of police escorts required.
- Because of the equipment’s considerable size, a refueling truck travels with the convoy to replenish fuel. The trucks transporting the equipment are too large to refuel at gas stations.
- The convoy includes 2 bucket trucks and power line operators who must move/replace power lines to allow passage of the immense equipment.
The proton unit should arrive at our main campus sometime between April 5-9. Installation is expected to take 9-10 months.
Proton therapy services will be located next to the Richard and Annette Bloch Radiation Oncology Pavilion on our main campus in Kansas City. Construction on the proton therapy site began early in 2020. When completed, the multimillion-dollar facility will serve patients from throughout the region and beyond, with room to expand as demand grows.
There are currently 38 proton therapy centers in the United States. There are no centers in Kansas or the surrounding states of Iowa, Nebraska, Colorado and Arkansas.