Chil­dren hit by delays in open­ing two pro­ton beam can­cer units

The Daily Telegraph - - News -

 Hun­dreds of chil­dren with can­cer are be­ing given in­fe­rior treat­ment be­cause of a fail­ure to open two spe­cial­ist cen­tres of­fer­ing state-of-the art ther­apy, ex­perts have said.

NHS of­fi­cials ad­mit that no pa­tient has yet re­ceived pro­ton beam ther­apy (PBT) at ei­ther its new London or Manch­ester sites, de­spite a gov­ern­ment pledge to treat 1,500 pa­tients a year by 2018.

Lead­ing on­col­o­gists called for trans­parency af­ter two open­ing dates at the Christie NHS Foun­da­tion Trust were pushed back this year.

Pro­ton beam uses a high-en­ergy beam of par­ti­cles to de­stroy can­cer cells while leav­ing healthy tis­sue un­af­fected. It came to pub­lic at­ten­tion in 2014 when the par­ents of Ashya King, a five-year-old can­cer suf­ferer, were briefly jailed af­ter re­mov­ing him from an NHS hos­pi­tal and tak­ing him abroad for pro­ton beam treat­ment.

Colin Hop­per, a max­illo­fa­cial can­cer sur­geon at Univer­sity Col­lege London, said: “We should be told why things are mov­ing slower than ex­pected.”

A Christie spokesman said its PBT cen­tre has been op­er­a­tional from Aug 20. The trust said pa­tients would be­gin PBT be­fore the end of “au­tumn”. NHS Eng­land said au­tumn ends on Dec 21.

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