Reading: New proton beam therapy centre to meet rising demand

The Rutherford Cancer Centre Thames Valley has announced the opening of its new proton beam therapy suite to meet growing demand for the pioneering treatment.

The centre in Reading, Berkshire, just 25 minutes from London, is the first such facility in South East England and will play a crucial role in advancing cancer care in the region.

The Centre has been operational since last year providing conventional cancer treatments and is part of a network of Rutherford Cancer Centres which have three fully operational centres in Wales, Northumberland and now Reading in addition to an NHS facility in Manchester, which have transformed the landscape for advanced cancer care in the UK. The centre will begin treating its first patients within a fortnight, which include a brain, and head and neck patient.

Proton beam therapy is a type of radiotherapy that delivers heavily charged protons in a more targeted manner to reduce damage to peripheral tissue and organs. Its accuracy means that it can help reduce unwelcome side effects.

Professor Karol Sikora, chief medical officer of Rutherford Health Plc which operates the Rutherford Cancer Centres, said: “UK cancer care has made major strides over the past year thanks to a complementary mix of private and public facilities but rising demand for precision radiotherapy means that there is still some way to go. Based on treatment rates in other advanced European countries, the UK may need approximately 18 proton beam therapy facilities in the years to come.”

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From left: Chief medical officer Professor Karol Sikora, centre manager Laura Geer, and proton beam therapy patient Timon Colegrove

Mike Moran, chief executive of Rutherford Health plc, said: “The opening of our latest proton beam therapy suite marks a major milestone for advanced cancer care in the UK. It is remarkable that just over a year ago, there were no such facilities in the UK. Patients who needed precision radiotherapy had to travel abroad which involves considerable cost and inconvenience, we now have three centres with more on the way. It reflects the rising demand for precision radiotherapy and we are determined to ensure cancer patients can receive the treatment that they need without facing any delays or having to travel abroad.”

Each Rutherford Cancer Centre provides imaging, chemotherapy, radiotherapy, immunotherapy, and proton beam therapy as well as a suite of diagnostic services. A fourth Rutherford Cancer Centre is currently under construction in Liverpool.

Laura Geer, centre manager of Rutherford Cancer Centre Thames Valley, said: “Bringing precision radiotherapy to the most populous region of the UK for the first time will have a major impact on patient outcomes and help transform cancer care nationally.

“Demand for advanced cancer treatments such as proton beam therapy will continue to grow and we are certain that the Thames Valley centre will go a long way in enabling patients to receive the treatments they need much closer to home.”