Training oncologists to meet rising demand of proton beam therapy
The Rutherford Cancer Centres have announced that they have treated over 100 patients with proton beam therapy and trained over 65 oncologists in the treatment of proton therapy to meet the rising demand for the pioneering treatment in the UK.
Proton beam therapy, a form of radiotherapy that delivers heavily charged protons in a more targeted manner to reduce damage to peripheral tissue and organs, was introduced in the UK in 2018 by the Rutherford Cancer Centre South Wales and the number of patients treated has increased significantly.
Rutherford Health commissioned a bespoke training programme with The Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania and IBA, the leading proton beam therapy solutions manufacturer, to train NHS oncologists. The programme, Proton Therapy Clinical Education, offers trained oncologists the opportunity to obtain practising privileges to work in the Rutherford Cancer Centre’s network of proton beam therapy facilities.
The programme involves UK oncologists gaining practical experience in Penn’s Roberts Proton Therapy Center – one of the world’s leading centres of proton therapy research and expertise.
There are three fully operational Rutherford Cancer Centres in Wales, Reading and Northumberland with a fourth due to open in Liverpool.
The centres have treated over 100 patients with high energy proton beam therapy for various cancers including brain, head and neck, lung, pancreas, oesophagus, sarcoma, bladder, prostate and breast.
The rising demand for proton beam therapy comes on the back of a recent ground-breaking study involving over 1,500 patients which found that proton beam therapy can be as effective at treating certain types of cancer but with significantly fewer side effects.
Mike Moran, CEO of Rutherford Health PLC which oversees the network of Rutherford Cancer Centres, said: “Just one and a half years ago, there were no proton beam therapy facilities in the UK. Today, the Rutherford network has treated over 100 patients with proton beam therapy. That is a remarkable turnaround.”
“The development of our centres and the expansion of proton beam therapy provision throughout the UK clearly indicates that there is strong demand for this treatment. Our oncologist training programme has been a crucial driver in that development process, ensuring patient treatment is performed in a safe and efficient manner across the board.”
“In addition to contributing to wider growth in UK oncology, the programme incorporates a peer review system that ensures all treatment plans receive oversight from Penn’s world-leading experience and expertise. This has also allowed us to align the use of proton therapy with that of Europe and the USA.”
Dr Shanmugasundaram Ramkumar, who went through the programme and is now an oncologist at the Rutherford Cancer Centre in Reading, said: “The proton beam therapy training offered at Penn was concise and meets the needs of oncologists unfamiliar with proton beam therapy planning and treatment for a variety of cancers.”
Rutherford Health hopes to widen access to precision radiotherapy including proton beam therapy and thereby significantly enhance patient outcomes as well as overall quality of life for cancer patients across the UK.