A GIANT step forward in the treatment of UK cancer patients has arrived following the installation of the nation’s first high energy proton beam system in Newport.

The 55-ton cyclotron Proteus®ONE solution will be located at the Rutherford Centre, a Proton Partners International cancer treatment facility situated at Celtic Springs.

Professor Gordon McVie, the chairman of the cancer care company, has labelled the arrival of the proton beam technology in the UK as a milestone – for Newport and Wales as well.

“This is the first proton machine in the UK and it’s a fantastic prospect for Newport as patients will come from all over the UK and further afield for sure,” said Professor McVie.

“They will come to stay in Wales while receiving their treatment which will be bring an economical boost to the area.

“It will attract top radiation therapists who will want to work with this new technology in the UK as there are no other machines running at the moment.”

The first of its kind in the British Isles, the cyclotron, installed and maintained by IBA (Ion Beam Applications S.A.), generates the protons used in proton beam therapy treatment.

The therapy uses a high-energy beam of protons rather than X-rays to deliver radiotherapy for patients, reducing the risk of damage to the surrounding healthy tissues. Professor McVie added that further machines will arrive in the future, which makes the Newport proton beam more significant, particularly for cancer patients and their families.

“There will be some NHS machines running in Manchester and London in two or three years’ time,” he said.

“In the meantime, the NHS will send its patients to America or Europe, for example Prague, and it costs the government around £90million per year for brain or spinal cord cancers.

“The money does not cover family or residential costs if you are talking about a child being treated for a four or five week period.

“It is much easier to have it here,” said Professor McVie.

The chairman added that the location of the city was a factor in decide the location of not only the Rutherford Centre, but also the cyclotron.

“Newport is very easy to get to – it’s just off the M4 and there are airports in Bristol and Cardiff nearby,” he said.”

“It has good connections and Newport is coming up in the world – there is definitely a real buzz about the place and this will add to that factor.”

Mike Moran, the chief executive officer of Proton Partners International, said: “We’re extremely proud to see the technical ‘heart’ of our first proton beam therapy centre being delivered.

“We are offering an all-encompassing cancer service, as every patient is different and requires a unique treatment plan.

“The centre recently opened to receive referrals for conventional treatments and following this morning’s successful arrival of the proton beam cyclotron, we will begin installation.

“Engineers from IBA and our physics team will work together to accept and commission the system for clinical use.”

Olivier Legrain, Chief Executive Officer of IBA, said: “We are proud to have successfully delivered the cyclotron of the first proton beam therapy system in the UK and to start the installation process.

“The compact design of the cyclotron means that it consumes less energy than similar technologies on the market, which in turn minimises the impact on the environment and reduces treatment cost.

“We are committed to supporting Proton Partners International as they make proton beam therapy a treatment option for patients across the UK.”

Proton Partners International is building a number of oncology centres across the UK named The Rutherford Cancer Centres and will install the same proton beam therapy system at its other centres which are under development in Northumberland, Reading and Liverpool.

Locations for a clinic in central London are also being considered.