The first patient to be given high-energy proton beam therapy in the UK has spoken about how the treatment could transform cancer care for thousands of patients across the country.
Simon Hardacre received treatment for prostate cancer at the Rutherford Cancer Centre in Newport, which is currently the only clinic in the UK where high energy proton beam therapy is available.
Mr Hardacre said:
“When I was diagnosed with prostate cancer, I wanted to research the best possible form of treatment for me, which is how I came across proton beam therapy. I am delighted to say the treatment has gone exceptionally well in that I have been given intensive cancer care without suffering any gruelling side effects.
“It will take some time before I know that the therapy has been a complete success but what I know is, that my body has been spared damage to healthy tissue and I have been able to go about my daily life during treatment.
“I was told to expect that my body would show signs of improvement in terms of how I was feeling within three months and that has already happened in even less time. I realise that protons are not the answer in every case – and I still have to wait to see how things finally work out but I genuinely believe we are in a new era of cancer care in this country now that proton beam therapy is finally available.”
Mr Hardacre, aged 56, from Woolaston in the Forest of Dean, was treated for another form of cancer a few years ago with chemotherapy and radiotherapy, and found recovery tough.
“Being treated at the Rutherford Cancer Centre in Newport meant that I was only a half-hour drive from home during treatment, and I could go about my daily life.”
“It’s brilliant that we now have a world class facility here in the UK where patients like myself can be treated. This was a game changer for my own cancer treatment, and I’m sure that this will transform the outlook for many other patients up and down the country.”
Dr Jason Lester, the consultant oncologist who treated Mr Hardacre, said:
“Treating the first person in the UK with high energy proton beam therapy is a significant event, and it opens up a new frontier for treatment in the UK.
“In the case of Mr Hardacre, we feel really positive about the way he coped with treatment. He will need regular check-ups in order to monitor his progress, and it was great to see him benefit from having treatment so close to home with minimal disruption to his daily life. We hope Mr Hardacre is the first of many to see the benefits from proton beam therapy treatment here in the UK.”
Proton Partners International is currently building Rutherford Cancer Centres in Northumberland, Reading and Liverpool and plans to build eight centres in the UK to provide a treatment centre within 90 minutes of 75% of the population. The centres will be able to provide cancer patients with proton beam therapy treatment as well as radiotherapy, chemotherapy, immunotherapy, imaging and wellbeing services.
There are more than 90,000 cancer patients in the UK every year who are treated with radical radiotherapy. Proton Partners International believes around 10% of patients treated with radical radiotherapy – the figure accepted at European level – could be better treated with proton therapy.
Proton beam therapy is particularly effective for tackling hard-to-reach tumours, as well as the treatment of children, as it reduces damage to surrounding healthy tissue.
Mike Moran, chief executive officer of Proton Partners International, said:
“For us, it is hugely important that patients are treated as close to home as possible, and it’s great that this year the country will have significant facilities available to patients. The NHS is opening a proton beam therapy centre soon in Manchester and our own facility will be operational shortly after in Northumberland.”
Treatment at the Rutherford Cancer Centres is open to self-funded and insured patients, as well as NHS patients should we be commissioned to provide proton beam therapy for them.