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Proton beam therapy facility opens in Reading

Photo: ITV Meridian

A new proton beam therapy centre has opened in Reading, following a growing demand for the pioneering cancer care.

It cost the Rutherford Cancer Centre £30m and is expected to treat approximately 500 patients a year.

Credit: ITV Meridian

Using highly targeted beams of protons, this 52 ton cyclotron will be able to treat hard to reach tumours in patients while minimising damage to healthy organs and tissue.

It's estimated that 10 per cent of people who are currently receiving conventional radiotherapy would be better off treated with protons, but the cost of this pioneering treatment is more than double.

It's not going to cure more patients necessarily, but it's going to reduce the long term side effects which can be very troublesome in certain sites. The computer can now predict, you don't need a doctor like me, the computer can do the prediction of where you are going to get the damage and then you can adjust to give the treatment, just to those patients who would benefit."

– Professor Karol Sikora, Chief Medical Officer of Rutherford Health Plc
5 years later, Ashya King is cancer-free and back at school

Proton beam therapy made widespread news back in 2014 when the parents of schoolboy Ashya King took him out of hospital in Southampton to receive the specialist treatment in Europe.

It has been available on the NHS for some cancer patients since 2008, but with no machines in the UK until last year, people have been sent abroad for treatment.

Credit: ITV Meridian

The opening of the Rutherford cancer centre in Reading means there are now four fully operational facilities serving the UK.

It's due to begin treating its first patients within a fortnight.

Watch Mel Bloor's report below: