NCRI recently held an educational day for some of its Consumer Forum members on Proton Beam Therapy (PBT)  – a current hot topic, and one in which NCRI’s Clinical and Translational Radiotherapy Research Working Group (CTRad) is investing significant effort, to ensure the UK has a strategic and coordinated approach for generating high-quality research using PBT when the UK’s first NHS PBT centre opens in 2018.

Two NHS PBT centres are in the process of being built at the Christie in Manchester and University College London Hospital, and NCRI’s CTRad has been in discussion with the two sites and experts in other centres about the national research agenda. NCRI Consumer Forum members who are involved in CTRad attended a PBT-themed education day hosted by the Christie in Manchester in August. The aim was to help our Consumers understand the concepts of this emerging therapy so that they can effectively participate in these upcoming discussions as part of CTRad.

Consumer Forum members heard from experts in the field who explained the concepts around PBT; comparing the difference between PBT and routine radiotherapy and looking at the characteristics of both treatments and their side effects. There was also an overview of the state-of-the-art equipment that will be installed at both treatment sites. All this was brought to life with a tour of the building site alongside a video illustrating how the building work will advance from week to week through to 2018 when the building and equipment will be commissioned, and a tour of the building site itself.

NCRI Consumer Forum member Sue Campbell said, “This was a most useful day. It gave me a good grounding in PBT and I feel more confident that my perspectives as a patient will be relevant to our work in shaping the national research agenda around PBT. I would like to express sincere thanks to all who were involved in arranging this education day, particularly to the clinicians and physicists who have given their time so freely with their presentations and to talk to us throughout the day. It was clear to see that we have a superb team who will take the NHS PBT treatment centres further. Obviously PBT is not the be all and end all of radiotherapy: and while the treatment itself is not suitable for everyone, it offers new hope for some patients and new opportunities for our research community.”