UK’s first proton beam therapy patient salutes 'new era' in cancer care
The first patient to be given high-energy proton beam therapy in the UK today spoke about how the treatment could transform cancer care for thousands of patients across the country.
Simon Hardacre received treatment for prostate cancer at the Rutherford Cancer Centre in Newport, South Wales, which is currently the only clinic in the UK where high-energy proton beam therapy is available.
He said: “When I was diagnosed with prostate cancer, I wanted to research the best-possible form of treatment for me, which is how I came across proton beam therapy.
Treating the first person in the UK with high-energy proton beam therapy is a significant event and it opens up a new frontier for treatment in the UK
“I am delighted to say the treatment has gone exceptionally well in that I have been given intensive cancer care without suffering any gruelling side effects.
“It will take some time before I know that the therapy has been a complete success, but what I know is that my body has been spared damage to healthy tissue and I have been able to go about my daily life during treatment.
“I was told to expect that my body would show signs of improvement in terms of how I was feeling within three months and that has already happened in even-less time.
“I realise that protons are not the answer in every case – and I still have to wait to see how things finally work out – but I genuinely believe we are in a new era of cancer care in this country now that proton beam therapy is finally available.”
The 56 year old from Woolaston in the Forest of Dean was treated for another form of cancer a few years ago with chemotherapy and radiotherapy and found recovery tough.
He said: “Being treated at the Rutherford Cancer Centre South Wales meant I was only a half-hour drive from home during treatment and I could go about my daily life.”
“It’s brilliant that we now have a world-class facility here in the UK where patients like myself can be treated.
“This was a game changer for my own cancer treatment, and I’m sure that this will transform the outlook for many other patients up and down the country.”
Dr Jason Lester, the consultant oncologist who treated Hardacre, said: “Treating the first person in the UK with high-energy proton beam therapy is a significant event and it opens up a new frontier for treatment in the UK.
“In the case of Mr Hardacre, we feel really positive about the way he coped with treatment.
Philips systems are at the centre of treatment at the unit
“He will need regular check-ups in order to monitor his progress, and it was great to see him benefit from having treatment so close to home with minimal disruption to his daily life.
For us, it is hugely important that patients are treated as close to home as possible and it’s great that this year the country will have significant facilities available to patients
“We hope he is the first of many to see the benefits from proton beam therapy treatment here in the UK.”
Proton Partners International 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 75% of the population.
The centres will be able to provide cancer patients with proton beam therapy treatment as well as radiotherapy, chemotherapy, immunotherapy, imaging and wellbeing services.
Proton beam therapy is particularly effective for tackling hard-to-reach tumours, as well as for the treatment of children as it reduces damage to surrounding healthy tissue.
Mike Moran, chief executive officer of Proton Partners International, said: “For us, it is hugely important that patients are treated as close to home as possible and it’s great that this year the country will have significant facilities available to patients.
“The NHS is opening a proton beam therapy centre soon in Manchester and our own facility will be operational shortly after in Northumberland.”
The treatment solution integrates Philips’ Big Bore CT and Pinnacle Treatment Planning System.
I realise that protons are not the answer in every case, but I genuinely believe we are in a new era of cancer care in this country now that proton beam therapy is finally available.
Rutherford Cancer Centre is also the first in the world to provide Intensity Modulated Proton Therapy (IMPT) with the Philips Pinnacle3 system.
IMPT enables radiation oncologists to adjust the precision, depth and intensity of a proton beam to the peaks and valleys of complex spiderlike tumours while avoiding healthy tissue.
In addition to this landmark treatment, the Rutherford Cancer Centre uses Philips’ Ambient Experience, an approach to clinical environment design aimed at improving the patient and staff experience already implemented in 1,000 sites globally.
Proton beam therapy can be used on various types of cancer and significantly reduces the side effects associated with other treatments