Morning Medical Update Monday 5-22-23

Media Resources

Jill Chadwick

News Director

Office: (913) 588-5013

Cell: (913) 223-3974


The University of Kansas Health System is treating a total of 18 COVID patients today, 20 Friday. Other significant numbers:

•           6 with the active virus today, 7 Friday

•           0 in ICU, 0 Friday

•           0 on a ventilator, 0 Friday

Key points from today’s guests:

Lisa Webb, first adult proton therapy patient at The University of Kansas Cancer Center

  • 53-year-old wife and mother, Lisa Webb, went to an eye doctor when she began to have vision problems a little more a year ago.
  • An MRI at The University of Kansas Health System discovered a brain tumor wrapped around the main artery of the brain and optical nerve.
  • Doctors removed some of the tumor but not all. They recommended a radiation treatment plan that would have taken her out of state and away from her family for weeks.
  • But timing was perfect: the new Proton Therapy Center at The University of Kansas Cancer Center – the first and only in the region – was opening at the right time.
  • Lisa became the first adult patient to receive proton therapy at The University of Kansas Cancer Center one year ago and is doing great now.

Dr. Ronny Rotondo, director of proton therapy, The University of Kansas Cancer Center

  • The Cancer Center will continue to see Lisa regularly to make sure she is doing well.
  • For brain tumors, there is limited space in the skull. As the tumor grows, it can put pressure on vital structures, so it is important to control them.
  • The delivery of radiation in proton therapy takes only a matter of minutes. With proton therapy, the radiation can be delivered in a more focused manner and significantly reduce the radiation to the surrounding normal healthy tissue.
  • It can be used to treat a variety of tumors, including head and neck cancers, pelvic cancers, prostate cancer and breast cancer.

Dr. Bernie Vaughn, certified medical dosimetrist, The University of Kansas Cancer Center

  • Dr. Vaughn’s role is to specifically decide how best to deliver the radiation to the patient.
  • The goal is to maximize the radiation dose to the tumor itself or the target to minimize those surrounding healthy structures to healthy tissue.
  • This involves significant pre-work with scans and mapping. He creates specific planning structures for each patient.
  • He won a national competition for his work in this area.

Dr. Ronald Chen, clinical science chief, The University of Kansas Cancer Center

  • Proton therapy is especially effective for treating children with tumors.
  • If you have cancer, you want the radiation to target the tumor and not go to the surrounding organs.
  • For kids who have many years ahead of them and are still growing the organs, we really want to minimize the radiation and damage to those organs.
  • We've successfully treated many children in our first year of the program.

Dr. Jeffrey Holzbeierlein, physician-in-chief, The University of Kansas Cancer Center

  • As a comprehensive cancer center, it's critical that we have all the state-of-the-art treatments for cancer patients, and certainly proton therapy is one of those.
  • It's important because it's going to be a great research tool as well.
  • The mission of a comprehensive cancer center is to do leading edge research. This proton unit will help us do that.
  • The Cancer Center has treated more than 150 patients in the Proton Center in the first year.
  • There are only 39 proton centers in the U.S., so many states do not have them, meaning patients must travel out of state to get the care they need.
  • The Proton Center at The University of Kansas Cancer Center addresses a real need in the region.

Tuesday, May 23 at 8 a.m. is the next Morning Medical Update. When a classmate needed a bone marrow transplant, one college student launched a campus-wide search for the right donor.

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