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.
Feeling fit and healthy when he went for a private medical check-up in December 2017, Timon was surprised when his results showed a raised PSA level. Despite having not a single untoward symptom, he became increasingly worried after a blood test, MRI, and then a biopsy which confirmed that he had prostate cancer.
Timon was then invited to choose his own cancer treatment from options including radiotherapy and a radical prostatectomy. For a man in his 50s, embarking on a new relationship (and now soon to be married), the thought of signing up for a cancer treatment which carries a 40% chance it could leave him impotent or incontinent was devastating.
Proton beam therapy arose as a more encouraging option after Timon attended a talk by oncology expert and co-founder of Rutherford Health plc (formerly known as Proton Partners International) Professor, Karol Sikora, at his local prostate cancer support group. Timon read up on proton beam therapy and was particularly heartened by its much lower risk of side effects, as the treatment is highly targeted and minimises damage to surrounding healthy tissue.
Proton beam therapy can be used in various forms of cancer; however, it is particularly effective for tackling hard-to-reach tumours. Deciding to go ahead with proton beam therapy, Timon was treated at the Rutherford Cancer Centre South Wales in November 2018.
Prior to his treatment Timon underwent targeted therapy, which successfully reduced his level of testosterone to almost nil – a process he found more unpleasant than the proton beam treatment itself. He experienced virtually no side effects during the proton beam therapy, other than a (temporarily) more pressing need to empty his bladder – which was only a problem at the cinema and during long drives…while he took the opportunity to use his spare time exploring Wales with his fiancée!