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Greater availability of proton beam therapy is to be embraced as it could herald a new era in the battle against certain types of cancer. The UK has for some time lagged behind other developed nations in the provision of proton beam therapy, but the opening of The Christie’s treatment facility combined with the network of Rutherford Cancer Centres means that UK patients will no longer need to travel abroad for treatment.

The Rutherford Cancer Centre South Wales was the first clinic in the UK to provide high energy proton beam therapy and successfully treated the first non-NHS patient with high energy proton beam therapy in the UK in April of last year. This milestone is due to be followed by the treatment of the first adult patient to be commissioned by NHS Wales shortly.

Dr Karol Sikora, Chief Medical Officer of the Rutherford Cancer Centres welcomed the news: “It is encouraging to see The Christie begin to offer proton beam therapy services and we wish them every success. The combined capacity of private and public providers of this innovative form of treatment will help revolutionise the provision of cancer care in this country and deliver enhanced patient outcomes.”

“The Rutherford Cancer Centres are pleased to have been at the vanguard of bringing proton beam therapy to the UK and have treated 30 patients with high-energy proton beam therapy so far.”

There are more than 90,000 cancer patients in the UK every year who are treated with radical radiotherapy. The Rutherford Cancer Centres believe around 10% of patients treated with radical radiotherapy – the figure accepted at European level - could be better treated with proton therapy.

The Rutherford Cancer Centre Thames Valley in Reading and the Rutherford Cancer Centre North East in Northumberland will open proton beam therapy suites next year, allowing for even greater access to this in-demand treatment. A centre in Liverpool, the Rutherford Cancer Centre North West, is currently under construction and will be completed later this year. Each Rutherford Cancer Centre is equipped to treat up to 500 patients per year.

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