Proton beam therapy to start in UK this year

UK patients will be able to access important treatment currently only available abroad.

Proton beam therapy Trento
A proton beam therapy centre in Trento, Italy
The high energy proton beam therapy centre, run by the NHS, will open at the Christie Hospital in Manchester with a planned date of August. The BBC described the treatment as “a highly advanced way of treating cancers without damaging tissues around the tumours”. It has put together a video about proton beam therapy describing the centre as a ‘game changer’. Currently NHS patients needing this treatment have to travel to the US or Switzerland. Speaking to the BBC, paediatric cancer consultant Dr Ed Smith said: “Young patients would benefit most from this treatment because their tissues are growing and are very sensitive to radiation. "But there are also tumours that sometimes sit next to quite critical structures in the body, say at the base of the skull or around the spine. "And this technology enables us to give a treatment dose to those patients while avoiding these critical structures." The Brain Tumour Charity has a wealth of information on proton beam therapy for children. The Manchester proton beam therapy centre will be followed by a second centre at London's University College Hospital planned for 2020. Currently the UK only has a low-energy form of proton beam therapy at the Clatterbridge Cancer Centre in the Wirral, where it is used to treat rare cancers of the eye. The new machine in Manchester will be the first to deliver much higher doses to a broader range of cancers.
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