Proton beam therapy – which is particularly effective in tackling hard to reach tumours and treating children without damaging healthy tissue - is to be available at the Rutherford Cancer Centre Thames Valley.

The core elements of the proton beam therapy system – a 52-ton cyclotron and gantry – were lowered into place today at the £30million Rutherford Cancer Centre at the Thames Valley Science Park.

The system is being installed by IBA (Ion Beam Applications S.A.), the leading international provider of proton therapy solutions. The Proteus®ONE solution being installed at the Rutherford is the most advanced compact system available for adaptive treatment.

The Rutherford Cancer Centre Thames Valley will be equipped to treat 500 patients a year.

Mike Moran, chief executive officer of Proton Partners International, which is creating a network of Rutherford Cancer Centres, said: “It’s wonderful to see another of our centres move closer to providing proton beam therapy treatment here in the UK. The Rutherford Cancer Centre Thames Valley is particularly exciting. Its close proximity to London and Heathrow allows for it to become a hub for patients in the South of England or those travelling to the UK for treatment.”

“While we know that proton therapy is not a panacea for all cancers, we have already seen the hugely positive results it can bring to patients at our centre in South Wales, and I look forward to us being able to offer that treatment across the UK.”

Olivier Legrain, Chief Executive Officer of IBA, said: “We are delighted to be working with Proton Partners International to bring high energy proton beam therapy to the UK. We are extremely proud of the Proteus®ONE solution, which is the industry’s only truly compact Image Guided Intensity Modulated Proton Therapy (IG-IMPT) solution. Having completed the installation of the Proteus®ONE solution in less than 12 months at the Rutherford Cancer Centre South Wales, we are confident that we will be able to do so again in Reading, giving residents of Thames Valley and beyond access to the latest cancer technology in due course.”

Attendees at Wednesday’s event included the Mayor of Wokingham Borough, Councillor John Kaiser, as well as Sir John Madejski, the Vice Chairman of Reading Football Club. They were joined by Professor Richard Ellis, the Director of Health Partnerships at the University of Reading, and Gordon Storey, the Deputy Lord Lieutenant of Berkshire.

The Mayor of Wokingham Borough, Cllr John Kaiser said: “It’s an honour to be here today to see proton beam therapy move closer to arriving in this part of the country. The introduction of this treatment at the Rutherford Cancer Centre Thames Valley will mean that those in Reading and in its surroundings are able to access proton therapy right here in their own town. With the centre based in the Thames Valley Science Park, it’s also great to see Berkshire continue to emerge on the global stage as a biotech and science hub.”

Professor Richard Ellis, Director of Health Partnerships at the University of Reading, comments that: “The delivery and installation of the Proteus®ONE is an important milestone in bringing proton beam therapy to patients in the Thames Valley. Once the proton beam therapy facility becomes operational, patients from across the region will have an opportunity to save considerable travel by being treated closer to home than hitherto – benefitting their wellbeing and also that of their families. Today’s events are also highly significant to the University of Reading’s development of, and continuing investment in, the Thames Valley Science Park.”

Proton Partners International (PPI) announced treatment of the first patient to receive high energy proton beam therapy in the UK at its Newport centre, the Rutherford Cancer Centre South Wales, in April this year. This was a landmark moment for cancer care within the UK, with patients previously having to be sent abroad to the USA or Europe to receive treatment.

PPI is currently building Rutherford Cancer Centres in Northumberland and Liverpool, as well as the Thames Valley centre in Reading, and plans to build eight across the UK to provide a treatment centre within 90 minutes of 75% of the UK population. The centres will be able to offer cancer patients proton beam therapy treatment as well as radiotherapy, chemotherapy, immunotherapy, imaging and wellbeing services.

The proton therapy suite at the Rutherford Cancer Centre Thames Valley will be equipped with Philips Ambient Experience technology, which optimises the patient experience with the use of coloured lights and soothing images in order to provide a relaxing patient environment.

The Reading centre will also be the first place in Europe to install the Veritas SmartVue® Natural Light Window System, which is the first pre-engineered system of its kind that allows radiotherapy patients to have a beautiful, uplifting view of the outside before and after the treatment process, without any risk of exposure to radiation.

There are more than 90,000 cancer patients in the UK every year who are treated with radical radiotherapy. Proton Partners International believes around 10% of patients treated with radical radiotherapy – the figure accepted at European level - could be better treated with proton therapy.

The Rutherford Cancer Centre Thames Valley is due to open its doors later this month for treatments such as radiotherapy, with the first proton beam therapy patient expected to be treated next year.