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.
Oxfordshire-based Dennis Allen was initially diagnosed with prostate cancer in March 2018 after a regular blood test at his GP practice prompted his doctor to do a PSA test. Unfortunately, the test results came back higher than desired and a subsequent biopsy confirmed that it was cancer.
His doctor talked him through the various treatment options and oncologists available, and Dennis decided to undertake in depth research of his own to assess what the best option would be. He discovered proton beam therapy after hearing about it from a friend who had attended a talk by Professor Karol Sikora at a local Prostate Cancer UK meeting. Professor Karol Sikora is one of the world’s foremost experts on cancer and served as chief of the cancer programme at the World Health Organisation before cofounding Rutherford Health plc (formerly known as Proton Partners International).
Having read up on the subject, Dennis was convinced that proton beam therapy was the best treatment option for him and made the decision to begin treatment at the Rutherford Cancer Centre South Wales in Newport in October 2018. At the time, it was the only centre in the UK to offer high energy proton beam therapy.
Proton beam therapy can be used to treat a range of cancers; however, it is particularly effective for tackling hard-to-reach tumours given that it reduces damage to surrounding healthy tissue, which in turn may reduce side effects – an aspect of the treatment which greatly appealed to Dennis.
Dennis had 4 months of targeted therapy followed by four weeks of high energy proton beam therapy treatment. The only part he found slightly troublesome was the targeted therapy, but the effects wore off following the treatment. The proton beam therapy itself was fine. Mr Allen said that treatment is so fast each day under the actual proton beam that “it takes longer to make a slice of toast”. During the treatment, Dennis did not experience tiredness and had very few side effects and was able to exercise and go on regular walks throughout the course of his treatment.