Cancer care in the North East takes step forward with arrival of first proton beam therapy system

The first proton beam therapy system to be installed in the North-East of England was delivered today by Proton Partners International Ltd.

The arrival of the machine at The Rutherford Cancer Centre, North East, at Bedlington, Northumberland, is another milestone in the provision of innovative cancer care in the UK.

Proton Partners International has already completed its first proton beam therapy centre at the Rutherford Cancer Centre, South Wales where patients will be treated with protons from next month.

Proton beam therapy will be available at the Rutherford Cancer Centre, North East from around the end of this year.

The Rutherford Cancer Centre, North East will be open from May this year providing a comprehensive cancer treatment service including chemotherapy, radio therapy and imaging. Patients requiring proton beam therapy imminently will be treated at the South Wales centre until the North East centre’s proton beam system completes its testing.

Proton Partners is building a network of Rutherford Cancer Centres, providing proton beam therapy treatment in the UK.

Mike Moran, chief executive of Proton Partners, said: “We are very proud, particularly in the aftermath of World Cancer Day on Sunday, to be bringing proton beam therapy to the North East.

“We formed Proton Partners three years ago on World Cancer Day with a firm commitment to help transform cancer treatment in the UK. What matters most is ensuring that the UK is providing people with the best treatments available and, sadly, the country has not been delivering. Thankfully, that is now changing and we put patient choice at the very top of our priorities.”

Treatment at the Rutherford Cancer Centres will be available to self-paying and medically insured patients. The centres will also treat patients should they be referred by an NHS provider.

The installation of the 55-ton cyclotron Proteus®ONE proton beam therapy system at Bedlington began today and will complete the final phase of the cancer centre being built.

The cyclotron, which is being installed and maintained by IBA (Ion Beam Applications S.A.), generates the protons used in proton beam therapy treatment.

The therapy uses a high-energy beam of protons rather than X-rays to deliver radiotherapy for patients, reducing the risk of damage to the surrounding healthy tissues.  

Professor Karol Sikora, Medical Director of Proton Partners International, said: “The delivery of this proton beam therapy machine to The Rutherford Cancer Centre, North East will make innovative and groundbreaking cancer treatment available to patients across England.

"This advanced proton therapy technology will transform the lives of many thousands of cancer patients with its very precise form of treatment and will mean that patients who need proton beam therapy will not have to travel abroad in future to receive it.”

Luk Herremans, Senior Vice President of IBA Proton Therapy, said: “We are proud to have successfully delivered the cyclotron of the second proton beam therapy system in the UK. The compact design of the cyclotron means that it consumes less energy than similar technologies on the market, which in turn minimises the impact on the environment and reduces treatment cost. We are committed to supporting Proton Partners International as they bring proton beam therapy closer to home for many more patients across the UK.”

Proton Partners International has other centres currently under development in Reading and Liverpool will install the same proton beam therapy system. Locations for a clinic in central London are also being considered.