‘Absolutely this saves lives’: KU Health System breaks ground on new proton therapy center

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OVERLAND PARK, Kan. — The first “privately-owned” physician-led proton therapy center in the region broke ground in hopes of saving lives.

“Oh, absolutely, this saves lives,” former Kansas Gov. Jeff Colyer said.

Colyer joined other doctors in the groundbreaking of The Kansas City Proton Institute. Construction has already started at 5300 Indian Creek Parkway in Overland Park.

The 34,000 square-foot facility is privately funded and physician-owned.

“Community-based medicine is more accessible, convenient. It’s much more cost-effective,” Dr. Kenon Qanar said.

He’s part of the team, and the appeal of proton therapy is accuracy and precision.

Qanar compares regular X-ray therapy to headlights in the fog. Whereas a proton beam is similar to a laser pointer.

This treatment is especially appealing to people with brain tumors, ocular tumors and tumors in the chest and abdomen.

“It allows us to spare healthy tissues from the exposure to radiation therapy, which reduces side effects,” Qanar said, “and it also allows us to give treatments that are more effective.”

Colyer called it an investment that will positively impact the entire state. People will flock to this area to get treatment.

Searching for treatment is a process he knows all too well.

Colyer is battling prostate cancer. They looked at proton therapy as an option.

“Well, that wasn’t available anywhere close to us on a regular basis,” Colyer said. “So, I would have to go hundreds of miles, spend a couple months there in order to get that therapy.”

That will no longer be a problem for people living in a 500-mile radius of Overland Park, Kansas.

Doors to the center are expected to open in the summer of 2023.

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