Dean of Medicine speaks at an international conference on Proton Beam Therapy

18 June 2019

Professor Karol Sikora, Dean of Medicine at The University of Buckingham, spoke at the international Particle Therapy Co-Operative Group (PRCOG) Conference in Manchester discussing proton treatment for cancer.

The PRCOG conference brought together scientists and experts of proton therapy from around the world together to discuss the ultimate goal of improving treatment of cancer to the highest possible standards.

Karol, also the Chief Medical Officer of Proton Partners International, outlined a bleak future for UK prostate cancer patients unless radical action is taken to increase the number of advanced British radiotherapy clinics and more focus is put into proton beam therapy.

Proton beam therapy is a form of radiotherapy that can deliver cancer treatment in a more targeted manner. This form of treatment has only recently arrived in the UK.

With proton therapy, there is no damage outside of the tumour. In regular radiation therapy, x-rays continue to give radiation doses as they leave the person’s body. This means that radiation damages nearby healthy tissues, possibly causing side effects.

The latest research shows that up to 20% of UK prostate cancer patients each year could be better treated with high energy proton beam therapy and 10% of people currently having radiotherapy would benefit from protons.

Karol said: “An ideal situation for proton therapy would be a child with a tumour on their spinal cord. It is vital that we prevent damage to the spinal cord – it’s just so exquisitely sensitive to radiation, so the proton treatment is ideal as the radiation stops at a defined point between the cancer and the spinal cord.”

The UK currently has three operational proton beam therapy centres in Northumbria, Newport and Manchester with one more set to open in the summer in Reading.

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