UCLH welcomes Government plans for PBT 

13/12/2011 00:00 

UCLH has welcomed the Government’s plans to invest in a new state-of-the-art service offering a revolutionary treatment to cancer patients.

Artist's impression of the new Proton beam Therapy site

The Trust is working with the Department of Health to make ‘proton beam therapy’ (PBT) a reality for NHS patients. The treatment uses a precision high-energy beam of particles to destroy cancer cells and is particularly beneficial for many child cancer cases.

PBT increases success rates and reduces side-effects, such as deafness, loss of IQ and secondary cancers. It can be better than conventional radiotherapy as it precisely targets the tumour, giving better dose distribution and not harming critical tissues.

At a speech to the Britain Against Cancer Conference this afternoon, Andrew Lansley will announce that up to 1,500 patients a year would benefit from the establishment of a new National Proton Beam Therapy Service. He will unveil plans to invest up to £150 million in the service.

At present, people in need of PBT are sent abroad – either to Switzerland or the USA.

UCLH has been identified as a potential provider of the service in the UK, alongside The Christie NHS Foundation Trust in Manchester and University Hospitals Birmingham NHS Foundation Trust.

Becoming a PBT site is in line with UCLH’s vision to become a global leader for cancer services. The Trust will open a new £110 million Cancer Centre on its central London campus in April 2012. The centre will include one of the first PET/MR machines in the world (the first in the UK) which will be used for more accurate cancer diagnosis and research in collaboration with the UCL Cancer Institute.

UCLH already offers some of the most advanced radiotherapy services available in the NHS.

Dr Yen-Ch’ing Chang, UCLH lead on Proton Beam Therapy, added: “Cancer patients who might benefit from proton beam therapy include most children, as well as some adults with complex cancers in bone, soft tissue, brain, eye and head and neck. 

“The key group who benefit will be children and teenagers.  Irradiating healthy tissues in children and teenagers can result in significant long term effects, such as problems with growth, IQ, development through puberty, heart and lung damage, as well as an increased risk in the development of a second cancer.  Proton beam therapy drastically reduces the chance of such side effects occurring.”

UCLH chief executive Sir Robert Naylor said: “UCLH welcomes today’s announcement by health secretary Andrew Lansley and will continue to work with the Department of Health and partners to make PBT in the UK a reality.

“UCLH working closely with UCL – one of the world’s leading universities – has invested huge sums over the past few years to develop capacity and capability to become one of the world’s most important cancer research facilities.”

Speaking at the conference, Andrew Lansley said:  “This investment will ensure that Britain remains at the cutting edge of the fight against cancer which is great news for patients, as well as for our scientists and academics who are always looking to push those boundaries further.

“For too long our cancer survival rates have lagged behind other comparable countries. I am determined that we will do everything we can to change that and this new investment will help significantly.”


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