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 now available at the Rutherford Cancer Centre North West in Liverpool.
The treatment of cancer remains one of the greatest challenges in medical science. The incidence of cancer and mortality rates in the UK means that maximum effort is continually required to secure the best possible outcomes for patients. This report assesses the role that proton beam therapy is now playing in the range of advanced cancer treatments available in the UK.
In just three years, the UK capacity for treating patients with high energy proton beam therapy has gone from zero to four fully operational centres capable of treating over 2,000 patients annually.
Proton beam therapy services in the UK are primarily. delivered through the Rutherford Cancer Centres (RCCs) and the NHS (there are three operational RCCs and one NHS facility). Further facilities are planned in both the public and independent healthcare sectors.
The nationwide cancer backlog created by the Covid-19 pandemic will remain a major challenge and proton beam therapy can play an important role in meeting this challenge.
There is clear evidence of increased patient demand for proton beam therapy in the UK.
The number of oncologists being trained in the delivery of proton beam therapy has risen across the UK.
The UK is set to reap an ‘innovation dividend’ through the creation of a better skilled and better prepared workforce including radiographers, physicists and oncologists.
The need to send patients abroad for treatment has been reduced dramatically.
The cost of proton beam therapy continues to reduce and initial expenditure can be offset by less ongoing treatment for patients over the medium and long-term.
Health Insurers are now increasingly supporting the funding of proton beam therapy.
The gap between provision of proton beam therapy in the UK and European counterparts is closing and there is still scope for more service provision in the UK.
Rutherford Health Report
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