The opening of the UK’s latest high energy proton beam therapy centre marks a significant moment in the provision of advanced cancer.
The opening of the Rutherford Cancer Centre at Bomarsund, Northumberland, signals a step change in the UK’s proton beam therapy capability. Little more than a year ago, there were no facilities operational and no alternative but to send patients to the USA or Europe for costly and disruptive treatment.
The arrival of three Rutherford proton beam therapy centres in Wales, Berkshire and now Northumberland plus an NHS facility in Manchester means the landscape for advanced cancer care has been transformed.
The first prospective cohort of patients at the Rutherford Cancer Centre North East are already undergoing assessment for proton beam therapy.
Proton beam therapy is a type of radiotherapy used in cancer treatment, delivering heavily charged protons in a more targeted manner to reduce damage to peripheral tissue and organs. It can also help reduce unwelcome side effects.
Mike Moran, chief executive of Proton Partners International which operates the Rutherford Cancer Centres, said: “The opening of the proton beam therapy suite at our North East centre is an exciting milestone in the development of high energy proton beam facilities in this country.
"Historically, the UK has lagged behind leading countries in the provision of this form of cancer treatment but now a complementary mix of private and public facilities are offering patients access to the most advanced technology that can enhance patient outcomes.”
The Rutherford Cancer Centre North East is part of a nationwide network of Rutherford facilities, providing state-of-the-art cancer services including imaging, chemotherapy, immunotherapy, and proton beam therapy.
Chris Land, centre manager at the Rutherford Cancer Centre North East said: “This is a landmark moment in the development of cancer care in the North East and it is a significant step in transforming the way certain types of cancer are treated.
“While proton beam therapy is not a panacea, it has been proven to be particularly effective in the treatment of hard to reach tumours and child patients as it reduces damage to surrounding healthy tissue.”
The Rutherford Cancer Centre North East has also announced a partnership with the cancer charity Fighting Against All Cancers (FACT). Joanne Smith, founder of the charity, said: “The arrival of high energy proton beam therapy is an exciting development for the region.
"Given that the North East has the highest rate of cancer incidence in England, new advances in the provision of state-of-the-art cancer care to patients in the region is very welcome. We are delighted to have partnered with the Rutherford to ensure patients receive a supportive, professional and holistic experience during a challenging time.”