NHS Proton beam therapy machine arriving at Christie Hospital

This will be the first high energy proton beam therapy centre to be built in the UK, with another being built at University College London Hospitals by 2020. The NHS has invested £250 million for these two centres to be built. The proton beam therapy will be placed into Christie Hospital, Manchester on 11th January 2018 with patients able to receive treatment from August 2018.

Proton beam therapy is considered safer for patients than the more common radiotherapy as it uses charged particles which directly target the cancer cells rather than a beam of high energy x-rays which are aimed at the area where the cancer can be found, which leads to healthy cells also being targeted by the x-rays. These means that radiotherapy can lead to many side-effects such as; tiredness, hair loss, nausea, diarrhoea, fertility issues, lymphoedema. This form of cancer treatment will be particularly used for children whose organs, if subjected to high energy x-rays, are at risk of lasting damage.

Last year, the NHS had to send patients abroad to receive proton beam therapy as no treatment was available for them within the UK. This meant a cost of around £114,000 for each patient. Hopefully this cost can be reduced now that the treatment will be available for the patients in the UK as 750 patients are hoped to be able to have the treatment centre at Christie’s from August 2018.

Although the funding of £250 million to build the centres has already been provided, the NHS hope to raise an extra £10 million for each of the centres in order for the centres to be fully equipped with specialist CT and MRI scanners and to build age appropriate facilities.

Personally, I think that this will aid the NHS greatly as it will reduce costs of having to send patients abroad to receive the treatment and this money can be used to fund the centres now being established in the UK. Also, it will benefit cancer patients massively as the proton beam therapy will be made available to many more people which will likely increase the recovery rates of cancer which can be treated this way and may also reduce the cases of recurring cancer as healthy cells are not subjected to the damaging x-rays.


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