New proton beam therapy unit opens in Berkshire

Third Rutherford unit ready to take patients

Rutherford Health has opened a new proton beam therapy treatment unit in Reading, Berkshire

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

The centre, in Reading, Berkshire, is just 25 minutes from central London and is the first such facility in South East England.

Part of a network of Rutherford centres, with facilities already operating centres in Wales and Northumberland, in addition to an NHS facility in Manchester, the units are tranforming the landscape for advanced cancer care in the UK.

The Thames Valley centre also includes a consultation facility in London’s Harley Street.

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, which operates the 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.”

Mike Moran, chief executive, added: “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.

“This 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 centre provides imaging, chemotherapy, radiotherapy, immunotherapy, and proton beam therapy, as well as a suite of diagnostic services. A fourth centre is currently under construction in Liverpool.