Somerset woman among first in UK to receive 'revolutionary' cancer treatment

  • Watch Richard Payne's report

A woman from Somerset has spoken of her hope that a rare form of cancer treatment will become more routine after taking part in a revolutionary trial.

Liz Patch is one of the first older patients in the UK to receive proton-beam therapy which targets tumours far more precisely than other treatments.

Six months after first being diagnosed, the grandmother-of-three is looking forward to returning to work.

Her tonsil cancer was discovered at a dental appointment last September, which the 58-year-old booked thinking she had an abscess under her tooth.

The Torpedo Trial gives Proton-Beam Therapy to a small number of older adults Credit: The Christie NHS Foundation Trust

"Your whole life flashes in front of you and you realise, especially with Covid, what's important to you," says the hairdresser from Redhill.

"I was pleased to get a dental appointment during lockdown. Now it turns out it might have saved my life."

Liz was accepted onto the UK's first proton-beam therapy clinical trial for older adults at Manchester's Christie Hospital.

Previously only available to those under 25, the Torpedo trial has no upper age limit.

"They kept saying 'it's going to be tough' and it has been and it has meant isolation, loneliness but I just thought 'I want to live' so I was prepared to do that," she added.

The proton beam therapy uses charged particles instead of X-rays and can target tumours far more precisely, causing little or no damage to surrounding tissue.

Proton-Beam Therapy uses charged particles instead of x-rays to target tumours more precisely, reducing tissue damage Credit: The Christie NHS Foundation Trust

Oncologist James Price, of The Christie, explained: "This is a patient group who need better treatment. It's great that we see lots of patients cured of this disease but we also see a lot of patients in follow-up who have significant side effects.

"We're hoping this trial goes a long way in identifying a new treatment that allows people to live with a better quality of life."

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