Julia's story 

“Our successful bid to provide proton beam therapy in the UK brings world class cancer care to our doorstep” 

Julia Solano

In her long career, Julia Solano, Radiotherapy Service manager at UCLH, says that the recent announcement that the UCLH will be the first national centre to offer Proton Beam Therapy (PBT) is one of the most exciting developments in Radiotherapy that she has ever seen.  “Proton Therapy uses some of the world’s latest technology to treat highly complex cancers in adults and children with reduced side effects. For patients who survive for many years after radiotherapy that can often have life long consequences, this represents a huge step forward”.

Joining forces with The Christie Hospital in Manchester, UCLH successfully won the bid to become the UK’s first national proton beam therapy centre in April 2012.  Treatment at UCLH will be available from a site to be developed on the University College Hospital campus in central London from 2017.

Currently only available in the USA and in some centres in Europe, Proton Beam Therapy uses high energy protons to target cancer cells with reduced side effects to surrounding areas or organs .Specific patient groups including children and adults with  some head and neck or brain cancers, will benefit from this type of radiotherapy.

Small numbers of patients are currently treated in the USA or Europe – UCLH typically refers small numbers of patients via a Department of Health referral programme, but a ten-week stint away from home isn’t easy for everyone, as Julia says, “Being away from home can be really tough on patients who are already going through a difficult time in their lives. The arrival of PBT in the UK will mean they will no longer have to travel abroad and will have the latest technology, supported by the expertise at UCLH, on home soil.  Some1500 patients a year will be suitable for the treatment in the UK.

UCLH’s cancer service is no stranger to firsts – we have some of the latest equipment available to treat and diagnose cancer.  This includes the UK’s first True Beam™ linear accelerator and PET-MR scanner - plus the brand new £100 million University College Hospital Macmillan Centre.  “PBT will be another piece of the jigsaw that is cancer treatment at UCLH. says Julia.   “With state-of-the-art facilities, and through our academic links with UCL, we have some of the best expertise and research capacity in the world; our service can only get better”.