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£250m investment in proton cancer therapy

New equipment will mean NHS patients no longer need to travel to the US for specialist treatment

Mark Gould

Thursday, 01 August 2013

A £250m investment in cutting edge equipment will mean that NHS cancer patients no longer have to travel to the United States for specialist Proton Beam Therapy (PBT).

Public health minister Anna Soubry said that PBT is a particularly important form of cancer treatment as it targets tumours more precisely with less damage to surrounding tissues.

This can improve the quality of life following cancer treatment, reduces side effects, especially for children and, because the NHS will be able to treat more people, it will save lives.

Currently, the NHS sends children and adults needing PBT to the United States, but from 2018 it will be offered to up to 1,500 cancer patients at the Christie NHS Foundation Trust in Manchester and University College London Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust in London.

Ms Soubry said: "We want the NHS to have the best cancer treatments available in the world. By investing in Proton Beam Therapy facilities, we will be able to treat more patients in the UK and reduce the stress placed on families who have had to travel to the United States to receive this innovative treatment.

This is a huge milestone for the NHS – not only will Proton Beam Therapy help save more lives, it will also ensure that patients experience fewer side-effects and have a better quality of life."

Adrian Crellin, the national clinical lead for Proton Beam Therapy said that patients will still have to travel to the US until the new facilities are built, but he added: "I am delighted that we are now a step closer to providing Proton Beam Therapy in the UK. Compared to standard radiotherapy options, Proton Beam Therapy offers the opportunity to reduce the risks of potential side effects such as growth deformity, loss of hearing and lowered IQ, which is a particular consideration when treating children and young people."

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