World experts share knowledge at first UCLH PBT symposium 

11/11/2015 00:00 
The world's proton beam therapy (PBT) experts came together under one roof recently for UCLH's first PBT symposium.

“With proton beam therapy coming to UCLH in 2019, we wanted to hold an event for clinical colleagues in the NHS to start to increase the amount of knowledge and information there is about PBT in the UK,” explained Richard Amos, operational lead for PBT physics at UCLH and an experienced PBT physicist.

“We also wanted to start to build links across the NHS to ensure that referral pathways and clinical networks would be strong when the centre opens in 2019.”

With Derek D’Souza, head of radiotherapy physics, Richard planned and arranged the two day symposium and successfully secured renowned international speakers, as well as colleagues from UCLH and The Christie.

With speakers explaining the physics behind PBT and the outcomes that can be achieved, it is clear that having PBT available in the UK will benefit patients hugely. One of the speakers, Danny Indelicato, director of paediatric radiotherapy at the University of Florida and who currently cares for UK children in Florida, explained: “The picture that is emerging for PBT is encouraging. Outcome data suggest that proton therapy can reduce the radiation dose to normal tissue around pediatric tumors without compromising our cure rate.
“Having proton beam therapy in the UK represents a significant advancement for these families… It is an immense privilege to care for these children in Florida and I am grateful for the trust families put in our team.

"However, I recognize there there is a real social cost when we must displace children from their local support network during such an critical time.  It can impact both the patient and their family from so many different dimensions. Although we devote immense resources to creating a supportive environment, from milestone celebrations to art therapy to theme park excursions, it simply cannot compensate for the comfort of care near home.”

Reflecting on the event, Derek D’Souza said “Our ambition is for UCLH to be an international centre of expertise in proton beam therapy where patients can receive the best care possible and be optimistic for their long term outcomes. The symposium is helping us make a start on this journey, and we hope to build on it with further events over the next few years.”

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