Breast cancer patient is first to be treated with proton beam therapy in the UK

Breast cancer patient is first to be treated with proton beam therapy in the UK

The first patient to be treated with high energy proton beam therapy for breast cancer in the UK commenced treatment this week (6th August) at the Rutherford Cancer Centre South Wales.

Jan Johnson from Swansea was diagnosed with breast cancer in May 2018. After researching various treatment options from chemotherapy to proton beam therapy, Ms. Johnson made the decision to pursue proton beam therapy treatment at the Rutherford Cancer Centre South Wales, which is currently the only place to offer this treatment in the UK. The centres are operated by Proton Partners International, which is the world’s leading developer of proton beam therapy centres.

Ms. Johnson said, “Following my discussions with my oncologist, I was clear in my own mind that I would prefer to be treated with proton beam therapy. I realise every case is different, but I think this is the best option for me. I’ve been impressed so far by my experience at the Rutherford Cancer Centre, and although it’s too early to know the outcome of my treatment, I am hopeful for positive results.”

The clinical team at the Rutherford Cancer Centre South Wales set out different options for treatment, explaining the respective benefits for each.

Professor Karol Sikora, chief medical officer of Proton Partners International, said “Whenever a patient comes to the Rutherford, we offer a double planning service where we compare the patient’s outcome with proton beam therapy to that of other cancer treatments such as radiotherapy or chemotherapy. We look at how the patient will respond to both and then advise a treatment plan based on the best possible outcome.

“In the case of Ms. Johnson, she chose proton beam therapy to treat her breast cancer after much consideration and started her treatment on Monday this week at our centre in Newport. We know that proton therapy is not a panacea for all cancers, however we have seen the positive results that it can offer to patients and hope that our centres being built across the UK will enable those who need the treatment to receive it close to home.”

The Rutherford Cancer Centre South Wales began treating proton beam therapy patients in April this year – the first time that this treatment was made available in the UK, where previously people had to travel to the US or Europe. Proton Partners International is building eight Rutherford Cancer Centres across the UK, with the proton therapy suites in Reading and Northumberland due to open next year.

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.