Wales cancer patients to get proton beam therapy on NHS
Cancer patients in Wales are to begin receiving proton therapy treatment on the NHS after a treatment centre was given the go-ahead by health boards.
The Rutherford Cancer Centre South Wales was the first to offer the treatment in the UK when it opened in April.
But until now this was only available to private patients.
The centre in Newport is expected to begin treating NHS patients immediately.
On Tuesday the Welsh Health Specialised Services Committee, responsible for services offered by Wales' seven local health boards, gave approval for the centre to accept patients referred through NHS Wales.
The centre, run by Proton Partners International, is the second in the UK to allow NHS proton beam therapy.
The Christie cancer centre in Manchester will be the first to give the treatment to a cancer patient in England next week.
Proton beam therapy is a specialist form of radiotherapy that targets certain cancers very precisely, increasing success rates and reducing side-effects.
Prof Roger Taylor, at the Rutherford centre, said: "Proton therapy is not a panacea for all types of cancer, however we have seen where it can be beneficial in areas such as brain tumours or cancers of the spine or head and neck, and working with the NHS means that adult patients in Wales will now have an option to be treated closer to home."
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Wales' Health Secretary Vaughan Gething said: "It is good to see government, health service and industry collaborating for the benefit of patients in Wales and to make an important contribution to the life sciences sector, which is an area of strength for Wales."
Previously, NHS patients in England and Wales had to travel abroad to receive the treatment at clinics in Europe and the US.
University College London Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust is due to be the next to offer NHS proton beam treatment in summer 2020.
Rutherford Cancer Centres in Reading and Northumberland will open proton beam therapy suites next year, with each unit equipped to treat up to 500 patients a year.