Proton beam therapy is an advanced form of external radiotherapy that uses high-energy proton beams instead of photon x-ray beams or electrons. Carefully measured doses of protons are delivered to the precise area needing treatment, using the latest IBA ProteusONE technology. This ensures that the delivery of proton beam therapy is highly accurate and prevents the risk of radiation reaching surrounding healthy tissue.
Radiotherapy is used to kill and destroy cancer cells. It utilises radiation in the form of high-energy x-rays, known as photons, to kill and damage the cancerous cells and prevent their growth and reproduction. It can be used as a non-surgical option to treat cancer, and it can also be used to shrink a tumour or in combination with other treatments.
The Rutherford Cancer Centres and Elekta are bringing the next generation of personalised adaptive radiotherapy technology to oncology centres across the UK, with the new MR-linac Elekta Unity available at the Rutherford Cancer Centre North West in Liverpool from late 2020.
Prostate cancer affects only men and has become increasingly more common in the UK over the last ten years. Across the UK, 1 in 8 men will get prostate cancer in their lifetime.
The prostate gland is only found in men and sits underneath the bladder. The prostate surrounds the first part of the tube that carries urine from the bladder to the penis (urethra). The urethra also carries semen, the fluid containing sperm. The prostate gland produces a protein called prostate-specific antigen (PSA).
Early diagnosis and timely treatment are key elements in successfully treating prostate cancer while improving survival rates.
Rutherford Treatment Options
Proton Beam Therapy
Prostate cancer in the early stages may not cause any symptoms, but changes to urinary output may be common.
Changed frequency of urination
Dysuria – Difficulty in urinating, may experience pain
Weak or irregular flow of urine
May struggle to control urination, leaking urine before or after urination
May need to strain to empty bladder
A feeling that the bladder isn't emptying completely
Nocturia – urinating more frequently in the night
Haematuria – Blood in urine, this may present in later stages and should not be ignored
Problems getting or keeping an erection
Some common symptoms related to the frequency of urination may be caused by prostatitis (inflammation of the prostate) and not prostate cancer, however, it is best to get this checked with your GP.
If you’d like to speak to us about any of the treatments we offer please don’t hesitate to get in touch. Call us on 0800 210 0402 or
A combination of scans, tests and biopsies can confirm details of the size, location and spread of the cancer. It's ideal to have all diagnostic details to hand if you would like to consider a consultation with our oncology specialists.
Ways prostate cancer can be diagnosed:
Prostate-specific antigen (PSA) – a blood test can be carried to test this protein made by the prostate gland. A Gleason score is given, which will indicate any abnormal levels of your PSA.
What is a Gleason score?
There are grading systems, which describe how slowly or rapidly the cancer is growing, as well as its location. In prostate cancer, this is known as the Gleason score and it measures PSA (a protein your prostate gland produces) levels in your prostate. Your doctor can explain what your scoring means. Some people may have a test where the results show abnormal readings that are slightly higher (due to lifestyle or other medical factors), but this doesn’t mean that cancer is present in the prostate. This is when you will be referred for further tests, as highlighted above.
Rectal spacers, if suitable for a patient who needs prostate cancer treatment, may be used for both conventional radiotherapy and proton beam therapy. A rectal spacer aims to distance the rectum from the prostate to reduce the dosage that the rectum receives and, therefore reducing long term side effects. This is not performed at the Rutherford Cancer Centres but is a procedure we arrange for patients at our partnering hospitals. A consultant or a member of the Rutherford team will be able to discuss rectal spacers as an option with you.
To find out more about the spacers we can arrange for your treatment, please see below:
Proton beam therapy is a type of external beam radiotherapy. It uses protons instead of x-rays (photons) to treat various types of cancer. This type of treatment is available at Rutherford Cancer Centres, and we are the only cancer treatment provider in the UK to offer proton beam therapy for prostate cancer. Our consultant clinical oncologists specialise in treating with proton beam therapy and radiotherapy.
The benefits of treating prostate cancer with proton beam therapy
The prostate gland is surrounded by critical organs such as the bladder and rectum, so it’s important to keep the dose to these organs as low as possible when planning and to deliver radiation treatment. Proton beam therapy can reduce long-term side effects, as the amount of healthy tissue exposed to radiation can be lower than with conventional radiotherapy. Another benefit to patients who receive prostate cancer treatment, have the option to undergo a reduced number of treatment ‘fractions’, which will reduce the number of treatment sessions you need. More information on this can be found under our seven-fractions for prostate cancer section.
Patients receiving precision radiotherapy treatment (radiotherapy or proton beam therapy) will attend a series of treatment sessions. This number can vary depending on the cancer and treatment required. Typically, the course of precision radiotherapy required for localised prostate cancer involves 20 treatment sessions, with one session a day, usually over four weeks.
At Rutherford Cancer Centres, we are always looking at ways to enhance your treatment experience when using innovative treatment options such as proton beam therapy. Treating prostate cancer with a reduced treatment period is referred to as ‘seven-fractions treatment’, this is an option that may be available to you.
Seven fractions of treatment are usually delivered every other day over the course of just fifteen days. This can work out as three sessions in the first week, three sessions in the second week, with a final single session taking place at the start of the third week.
The benefits of seven-fractions
Seven-fractions as a treatment option has specific benefits for those being treated with proton beam therapy for prostate cancer. These include:
Fewer treatment sessions can mean less impact on your work and daily life
Fewer treatment sessions can help you and your family return to normal more quickly
When the ‘seven fractions’ option is viable and proton beam therapy is used in combination with a rectal spacer, the accuracy and effectiveness of your treatment will help to deliver the most optimal results. Please see our Rectal Spacers section for more information.
Further information & support
Being diagnosed with prostate cancer and deciding on the best treatment can be daunting, for full details on prostate treatment options or to discuss a diagnosis, please contact our enquiries team. Our enquiries team will endeavour to help you assess your treatment options and advise which consultants could be best placed to plan your treatment pathway.
Macmillan Cancer Support offers a wide range of information and support, as well as help with your practical, emotional, and financial needs. All telephone helplines are free and confidential, and interpreting services are also available.