Newport could have UK's first proton beam centre

The UK's first proton beam therapy centre could open in Newport by 2016. It will see Wales leading the way in the treatment which can provide highly targeted radio therapy for hard-to-reach cancers.

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What is proton beam therapy?

Credit: NHS Choices

Proton beam therapy is a form of treatment which uses sub atomic particles (protons) to target cancers.

Its advantage is that it can be focussed more narrowly on diseased tissue.

Conventional radiotherapy can damage surrounding tissue.

The proton beam damages the DNA of cancer cells which are particularly vulnerable to the treatment because they divide so quickly and have a reduced ability to repair the DNA damage.

It is important not to assume that newly emerging treatments are more effective than existing treatments.

Proton beam therapy may cause less damage to healthy tissue, but it is still unclear whether it is as good at destroying cancerous tissue as conventional radiotherapy.

As proton beam therapy is usually reserved for very rare types of cancer, it is hard to gather systematic evidence about its effectiveness when compared to radiotherapy.

– NHS Choices website

South Wales could have UK's first proton beam therapy centre

South Wales could become the home of the UK's first proton beam therapy treatment centre which helps treat the most complex and hard-to-reach cancers.

The centre, due to open at Celtic Springs Business Park, Newport, by 2016, will see Wales leading the way in the treatment.

Credit: PA Images

There are currently only 40 therapy centres around the world.

The potential centre has been described as a 'significant inward investment to Wales' that will 'save lives on Welsh soil'.

Proton beam therapy provides a highly targeted radio therapy and has been described as a so-called 'miracle' treatment. It's estimated that by 2017 the NHS demand for proton beam therapy will reach 1,500 patients.

Currently people have to go abroad for the treatment, including two-year-old Freya Bevan, from Swansea, who suffers with a rare brain tumour.

Credit: Freya Bevan fundraising page

Proton therapy also helped saved the life of Ashya King who was recently declared cancer-free after proton beam therapy in Prague.

Credit: Family handout

This is an exciting and important development of the UK provision of cancer treatment. As things stand, patients who can benefit from this treatment have to go abroad, often at a great expense to the NHS.

The creation of these centres will go a long way to ensuring the very best of treatment is available in the UK.

– Professor McVie, Senior Consultant at the European Institute of Oncology

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