Dr Ian Barwick,
Chief Scientific Officer, Proton Partners International
UK cancer patients who need high-energy proton beam therapy treatment must often travel abroad to get it. Now, a new network of UK cancer centres will bring it closer to home.
An innovative oncology company is bringing high energy proton beam therapy treatment for cancer to within 90 minutes of 75% of the UK population.
The Rutherford Cancer Centre South Wales in Newport is the UK’s first high energy proton beam therapy centre, and is the first of a network of eight proton beam therapy centres planned by Proton Partners International (PPI) for the UK.
Dr Ian Barwick is the Chief Scientific Officer of Rutherford Innovations, the R&D arm of PPI. He says: “The Newport centre began treating proton beam therapy patients in April this year. The technology to deliver high-energy proton beam therapy is already being installed at our centres in Northumberland and Reading, which are both set to offer proton beam therapy next year. A fourth centre is under construction in Liverpool.”
Proton beam therapy is not beneficial for all patients. As such, mainstream cancer treatments such as radiotherapy and chemotherapy will also be offered at all of the centres. These will accept medically-insured private patients and self-paying patients, as well as NHS patients should the centres be commissioned to provide proton beam therapy for them.
Saving the stress of overseas travel for patients
NHS proton beam therapy centres are expected to open this year in Manchester, and, in 2020, in London.
Until the opening of the Rutherford Cancer Centre South Wales, cancer patients had to travel abroad for proton beam therapy treatment. Proton beam therapy is often used to treat head and neck cancers in children, meaning that whole families often had to travel abroad for weeks at a time.
Barwick says: “This can be a huge upheaval for the whole family. Once completed, our centres will offer an additional choice, where patients can have treatment ideally within 90 minutes of their home for 75% of the UK population, vastly improving the patient experience.”
The centres will collaborate with universities and other global proton beam therapy centres in the advancement of research.
Barwick says: “We will collect and share data. Larger datasets will provide better evidence to show when proton beam therapy may result in better patient outcomes in a broader range of cancers. In some European countries it has been shown that 10% of people receiving radical radiotherapy for cancer are likely to benefit from proton beam therapy.”
The company is working with the University of Liverpool to develop a new measurement system to enhance proton beam technology. It also has a pilot bursary for radiology students at the University of the West of England and Sheffield Hallam.
Learn more at www.therutherford.co.uk, or contact 0800 210 0402.