GAME-CHANG­ING TREAT­MENT

Good Housekeeping (UK) - - Sarah -

For years, var­i­ous com­bi­na­tions of chemo­ther­apy ra­dio­ther­apy, surgery and some­times hor­mones have been the main­stay of treat­ment for cancer. Ra­dio­ther­apy can be highly ef­fec­tive, but if it needs to be de­liv­ered to a cancer deep in the body, the beams can cause dam­age to healthy sur­round­ing tis­sue.

But pro­ton beam ther­apy, which de­liv­ers pro­tons from the heart of an atom at over 100,000 miles per sec­ond, can be di­rected with greater pre­ci­sion than tra­di­tional ra­dio­ther­apy. And because pro­tons are much smaller, they stop when they reach the tu­mour, re­duc­ing the risk of dam­ag­ing sur­round­ing struc­tures. Pro­ton beam ther­apy can also pro­vide the same ben­e­fits as other forms of ra­dio­ther­apy at lower doses.

The UK has had a sin­gle cen­tre for treat­ment with low-en­ergy pro­ton beam ther­apy since 1989, which has been used to treat pa­tients with eye can­cers (usu­ally melanomas). But, un­til now, the only op­tion for NHS pa­tients con­sid­ered suit­able for high-en­ergy pro­ton beam ther­apy has been to travel abroad. How­ever, this year, The Christie in Manch­ester be­came the first UK hospi­tal to of­fer this treat­ment, with an­other cen­tre in Lon­don due to open in 2020.

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