When Roman Volkov was just four years old, he developed a fever that wouldn’t go away. After three weeks, his parents took him to their local doctor. It turns out he had a stage 4 cancer in his stomach called a neuroblastoma…a very serious and potentially fatal condition. Their local doctor didn’t have the means to treat Roman, so the family came to The University of Kansas Cancer Center, where they were immediately seen by Dr. Jyoti Panicker, who specializes in childhood cancers. Dr. Panicker quickly began treatment of Roman, but the one treatment that would make the biggest difference wasn’t yet available in Kansas…proton beam therapy.
Both proton therapy and traditional radiation treat cancerous tumors the same way: by inhibiting the growth of cancer cells. The largest difference between the two is that proton therapy releases the bulk of its energy at one specific, concentrated area — and radiation targets the tumor only. Traditional radiation is scattered and can harm healthy tissue. Because of this, physicians are able to act more aggressively, increasing the radiation dosage while limiting damage to healthy tissue and organs.
Roman and his mom had to travel to another state for this treatment for several months before returning to Kanas for follow-up care. The good news is the proton beam therapy did exactly what it was supposed to do for Roman, and today, he’s a normal, healthy eight-year-old who loves going to Royals games.
The University of Kansas Cancer Center, the region’s only NCI designated cancer center, is now in the process of bringing proton therapy to its Kansas City campus. It will be one of only 30 proton therapy centers in the country, none in the surrounding states of Iowa, Nebraska Colorado and Arkansas. Proceeds from the Treads and Threads event at The Kansas Speedway on Friday, September 6, will go toward that effort.
In the video, Dr. Jyoti Panicker, Roman’s doctor, describes proton beam therapy, how it works and how it differs from other types of cancer treatment. She also talks about Roman, how he was when he first came to see her and how his health is today. And she stresses the benefit of having proton beam therapy close to home, so a patient like Roman and his family won’t have to travel.
Also in the video Karen Larson, Roman’s mother, describes her son’s symptoms, diagnosis and treatment and how relieved she is that he’s doing so well today. Roman Volkov is also in the video, talking about what it was like going through the treatment. There are also still photos of Roman as he was going through the treatment
Also included is video from the proton beam’s manufacturer, IBA, of the Proteus One, the device coming to The University of Kansas Cancer Center.