The demand for proton beam therapy for cancer patients has increased significantly this year as a result of the availability of the treatment in the UK.
Proton Partners International reported today that 25 patients have been or are in the process of being treated with high energy proton beam therapy through its Rutherford Cancer Centre network.
The therapy has been used to treat a variety of cancers including breast, head & neck, prostate and hip.
Simon Hardacre, the first patient to be treated with high energy proton beam therapy in the UK, was treated at the Rutherford Cancer Centre South Wales in April and, since then, an increasing number of patients are exploring the benefits of proton beam therapy.
Mike Moran, Chief Executive Officer of Proton Partners International (PPI) which operates the Rutherford Cancer Centres, said: "We were extremely proud to introduce high energy proton beam therapy to the UK and as awareness of the treatment grows, demand has increased. We expect this trend will continue as other facilities offering PBT begin operating.
"This year has proved to be a landmark moment because, generally, it removes the need for patients having to be sent abroad for treatment.
"We should be clear that proton beam therapy is not a panacea in terms of cancer care but is proven to deliver benefits across a range of cancers. For example, it is well established that it is particularly effective in the treatment of children and hard-to-reach tumours as it reduces toxicity in the body."
Since the opening of the Rutherford Cancer Centre South Wales’ proton therapy suite, Proton Partners International has since opened two further centres in England – the Rutherford Cancer Centre North East in Northumberland and the Rutherford Cancer Centre Thames Valley in Reading.
Both centres are already treating patients with chemotherapy and radiotherapy treatments, and the centres will offer proton beam therapy from 2019 when the machines have been commissioned, however the Rutherford’s networked system means that patients can currently be assessed for proton beam therapy at any of the centres before traveling to Newport for the actual treatment.
Each patient at the Rutherford Cancer Centre experiences a double planning process, which sees a team of oncologists predict the outcome of proton beam therapy treatment versus radiotherapy for each individual case. This ensures that the best possible treatment is applied, and all treatment plans are then peer reviewed with world-leading proton beam therapy consultants in the US.
There are more than 90,000 cancer patients in the UK every year who are treated with radical radiotherapy. Proton Partners International believes around 10% of patients treated with radical radiotherapy – the figure accepted at European level - could be better treated with proton therapy.
Another site in Liverpool, the Rutherford Cancer Centre North West, is currently under construction, and PPI aims to have a site within 90 minutes of 75% of the population by 2021.
All centres offer proton beam therapy to medically-insured private patients and self-paying patients, as well as NHS patients should the Rutherford Cancer Centres be commissioned to provide proton beam therapy for them.