A study released last month by the University of Pennsylvania revealed that the risk of side effects from toxicity to the body was two-thirds lower for proton beam therapy patients compared to conventional radiation therapies. Researchers leading the study also highlighted that overall survival rates were similar in both groups, indicating the reduced toxicity with proton beam therapy did not come at the cost of effectiveness.
The range of estimates for the use of protons in radical radiotherapy ranges from 1% (UK, NHS) to 20% in the US. Recent policy studies from several European countries indicate a 10-15% utilisation of protons in patients treated with radical radiotherapy. This would require between 10-20 high energy proton beam therapy machines for the UK. Unless there is an urgent policy change, the overall quality of British radiotherapy will fall below European levels by 2020.
Speaking at the Particle Therapy Co-Operative Group conference (PTCOG) later this week, Professor Karol Sikora, Chief Medical Officer of Proton Partners International, will outline a bleak future for UK prostate cancer patients unless radical action is taken to increase the number of advanced British radiotherapy clinics.
Professor Sikora said: “Whilst proton beam therapy is not a magic bullet for all types of cancer, we have seen first-hand its effectiveness in significantly reducing the risk of side effects from toxicity and enabling patients to have a much better quality of life during and after treatment.”