Proton Partners International is building a network of Rutherford Cancer Centres across the UK to be able to provide cancer patients with proton beam therapy treatment as well as radiotherapy, chemotherapy, immunotherapy, imaging and wellbeing services.
Professor Karol Sikora, chief medical officer of Proton Partners International, said: “This is a landmark moment in UK cancer care and it is a significant step in transforming the way patients are treated.
“Proton beam therapy has been available abroad for many years, so it is hugely important that the UK is now able to offer this type of cancer care. There is a debate around how many patients are suitable for proton beam therapy. We do know that proton beam therapy is effective in the treatment of children as it reduces damage to surrounding healthy tissue, and it is also proven to work in tackling hard-to-reach tumours.”
There are more than 150,000 cancer patients in the UK every year who are treated with radiation therapy. 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.
Mike Moran, chief executive officer of Proton Partners International, said: “Today is an important day because from now patients no longer need to be sent abroad to receive proton beam therapy and we are delighted that Wales has shown the lead in helping make this advanced treatment available to patients.
“Until now, patients have to be sent to private clinics in the US or Switzerland to get this treatment at a cost of around £114,000.
“By making the treatment available in the UK, the cost is significantly reduced but so is the effect long-distance travelling can have on patients and their families.”
The Rutherford Cancer Centres treat health insurance and self-pay patients and is available to treat patients should they be referred by an NHS Trust.
Mr Moran said: “The NHS is building proton beam therapy centres in Manchester and London, but we believe the demand for this treatment will be extensive and it is important that patients are treated as close to home as possible. We look forward to having constructive discussions with the NHS now that treatment has started in the UK.”
Proton Partners is currently building Rutherford Cancer Centres in Northumberland, Reading and Liverpool and plans to build eight centres in the UK to provide a treatment centre within 90 minutes of a patient’s home.
The Rutherford Cancer Centres feature the most advanced technologies and Proton Partners International has formed a partnership with IBA (Ion Beam Applications), the world’s leading provider of proton therapy solutions and Philips, a leader in health technology.
Proton Partners International has also established a two-year collaborative research project with The University of Liverpool to develop a new measurement system to enhance proton beam therapy technology.
The company has also joined The College of Radiographers’ Industry Partnership Scheme (CoRIPS) to provide funding for future research and educational projects.