Great Ormond Street Hospital patients are set to benefit from a government announcement today that up to £250 million of funding will bring Proton Beam Therapy to the UK.

Many GOSH patients with cancer receive their radiotherapy treatment at University College London Hospital (UCLH), which will be one of two sites delivering Proton Beam Therapy across the NHS from 2017.

Proton Beam therapy at UCLH

UCLH, & Great Ormond Street Hospital (GOSH) are the third largest centre for children with cancer and leukaemia in the Western world, and the largest in Europe.

Proton Beam Therapy is a type of radiotherapy which uses a precision high-energy beam of particles to destroy cancer cells. The treatment is particularly suitable for complex childhood cancers, increasing success rates and reducing side-effects, such as deafness, loss of IQ and secondary cancers. It can also be used to treat brain cancers, head and neck cancers and sarcomas.

There are currently no high-energy Proton Beam Therapy facilities in England, and patients who require the treatment have to be sent abroad.

Dr Yen-Ch’ing Chang, consultant oncologist and UCLH lead on Proton Beam Therapy said: “Proton Beam Therapy’s main advantage is that less normal tissue is irradiated. This is a particular advantage in children and young adults. Irradiating healthy tissues in children and teenagers can result in significant long term effects, such as problems with growth, IQ, development through puberty, hormone deficiencies, fertility, as well as an increased risk of the development of a second cancer.  Proton Beam Therapy significantly reduces the chance of such side effects occurring.

“Cancer patients who might benefit from proton beam therapy include children and teenagers, as well as some adults with complex tumours of the brain, bone and soft tissues.”

Fiona Dalton, deputy chief executive, Great Ormond Street Hospital added: “We are delighted that UCLH have secured this very important funding, which will help some of our sickest patients. We work very closely with the team there and look forward to continuing to do so in the future.”

Find out about research carried out at Great Ormond Street Hospital and the UCL Institute of Child Health on our Bringing Research to Life website.

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