Cancer Research

Our Proton Beam Therapy trials and evaluations

Following his own successful treatment for throat cancer using Proton Bean Therapy (PBT) in 2018, Ian Taylor, of The Taylor Family Foundation (TTFF), is pleased to announce that TTFF is funding large- scale clinical trials at the new Proton Beam Therapy facility at the world-renowned Christie Cancer Centre in Manchester. This will increase the likelihood of the provision of PBT for Head and Neck cancer patients who have recurrent disease and are in desperate need of the new treatment.

Ian Taylor comments on his own experience: I was first diagnosed with throat cancer in 2014 and received chemo and radio therapy. Unfortunately, the cancer returned in 2017 when invasive surgery was deemed to be the only feasible remedy at that time. When a third bout of cells developed, having exhausted the traditional treatment options available to me, I was lucky to find the option of Proton Beam Therapy and received treatment overseas. I had the resources to fund my travel and treatment but for most that is not an option. I hope that through the work The Christie and others are doing, we can look forward to the time when PBT will be available to all who need it, and that it will become a mainstream treatment provided by the NHS.

Head and Neck Cancer is one of the most common subgroups of cancer with around 11,700 patients in the UK being given the life-changing diagnosis every year. Survival rates vary but overall around 50% of patients will survive 5 years from diagnosis.

Radiotherapy is used to treat over 50% of these cancers and can often completely cure them, however, the high-power X-rays used pass straight through the body, often causing devastating side- effects as they hit critical structures in the head and neck. Some patients become too ill to complete the course of treatment and even if fully treated, should the cancer return, further rounds of treatment are often not possible.

“I LOOK FORWARD TO THE TIME WHEN PBT WILL BE AVAILABLE TO ALL WHO NEED IT, AND THAT IT WILL BECOME A MAINSTREAM TREATMENT PROVIDED BY THE NHS.”

Proton Beam Therapy (PBT) is an exceptionally advanced treatment where particles smaller than an atom are fired at tumours at over half the speed of light. They deposit their radioactive payload with microscopic precision, potentially curing cancer even in people who cannot receive any more radiotherapy.

The Christie is one of the largest single cancer centres in Europe and has already started delivering PBT to small number of patients with certain rare cancers. Their internationally renowned team of professors and doctors believe they are on the cusp of a new break-through with PBT, combining it with immunotherapy to harness the patients’ own immune system to fight the cancer.

In addition to the Trials specifically for head and neck, we are also funding research at University College London Hospitals (UCLH), whose own PBT Centre is due to open in 2020. The Taylor Family Foundation will be providing funding for their ambitious 5-year plan to make full use of this new technology to treat as many types of common cancers as possible (such as breast, pancreatic, liver, lymphoma and lung). A dedicated team of physicists, biologists, doctors and researchers will collaborate internationally with existing experts and find the evidence required for PBT to become routine ‘standard of care’, radically changing the treatment options on offer for cancer patients in the future, as well as shaping treatment guidelines and protocols internationally.