The NHS has announced that the brand-new state-of-the-art proton beam therapy machine is in place at The Christie in Manchester. Furthermore, the first patient in England is ready to receive proton beam therapy this month. This is a significant milestone for the NHS.
As well as the installation of a proton beam therapy machine, NHS England has also announced a £130 million investment to upgrade the radiotherapy machines across the UK so that cancer patients can receive improved care. This investment has already funded 80 new and upgraded linear accelerator (LINAC) radiotherapy machines.
At the moment 40% of cancer patients in the NHS receive radiotherapy. The treatment is one of three main options for therapy as well as surgery and chemotherapy. The upgrades mean that cancer patients across the UK will have access to the latest cutting-edge equipment.
However, currently, it is only The Christie where patients can receive proton beam therapy. In 2020, University College London Hospitals will also have a proton beam therapy machine. When ready, they will be able to treat 750 patients a year.
What is proton beam therapy?
Proton beam therapy is a precise type of radiotherapy that can provide targeted treatment to specific cancers. As it is so specialist and precise, it can increase the success rate as well as reduce the number of side effects. It works by targeting tumours directly so that it doesn’t damage any of the surrounding healthy cells. It is a fantastic option for children as it reduces the risk of long-term damage to organs that are still growing.
Roger Spencer, the Chief Executive of The Christie, said of the announcement; “To be just days away from offering high energy proton beam therapy to patients in the UK for the very first time is really exciting. Patients will benefit hugely from having the service available in Manchester bringing treatment closer for them and their families who currently have to travel abroad, and resulting in less upheaval during what is undoubtedly an extremely stressful time in their lives.”