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Proton Beam Therapy

Health Secretary Andrew Lansley has announced that the NHS will invest up to £250 Million into proton beam therapy. There will be two units one in London and one in Manchester. The London unit will be at University College London Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust and the Manchester one at The Christie NHS Foundation Trust Hospital.
The centres should be operational by 2017.

As we previously reported on the Jennie Reeves Facebook page (http://www.facebook.com/radiographers) a third site had been considered in Birmingham. However it has been announced that this site will not be built unless demand increases significantly.

Currently NHS patients have to travel abroad to take advantage of this type of radiotherapy. Patients are either sent to the United States or to facilities in Switzerland. According to the Department of Health, by 2014/15 the NHS will be spending around £30 million per year sending up to 400 patients overseas.

Andrew Lansley “Developing a national proton beam therapy service is vital to ensuring our cancer facilities are world class. We have always said that it is patient outcomes which matter, and to get the best for patients we must always be looking to push the boundaries.

“In addition to improved success rates proton beam therapy reduces the side-effects which patients, particularly children, can suffer as a result of traditional forms of cancer treatment.

“Once this service is in place, The Christie and UCLH will boast unparalleled cancer facilities. It will mean more patients will be able to get this treatment, including those for whom travelling abroad for long periods is not possible.”

Proton therapy is more accurate and easier to control than conventional radiotherapy. This means that damage to healthy tissue can be minimised. The basis of proton beam therapy is a particle accelerator, which enables medical physicists to create a beam of protons. Protons behave in a unique way; they do not scatter easily once directed and release their energy at very precise depth or distance.

13 April 2012

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