PATIENTS with difficult to treat cancers are benefiting from precision medicine technology at a Newport cancer centre which is helping lead a drive in Wales towards more personalised healthcare.

The Rutherford Cancer Centre South Wales, at the city’s Celtic Springs Business Park, has been providing high energy proton beam therapy for cancer patients for almost a year now, and its first NHS-referred patients has recently completed his treatment.

Ryan Scott, 23, from Cardigan, faced an eight-week sojourn in the USA, in order to benefit from proton beam therapy for a brain tumour.

But after the Newport centre was approved for treating NHS-referred patients he instead became one of the such patients in the UK to receive it on these shores.

He described being able to be treated much closer to home as a “a real plus”, and Mike Moran, chief executive of Proton Partners international, which runs the centre, said that providing such high value facility is key to enabling a positive experience for patients.

“We are looking at some of the most visionary and pioneering treatments with our oncologists,” said Mr Moran, at a ceremony to mark the official opening of the centre.

“If we were not here (in south Wales), the expertise would be in places like London and Manchester, and are making sure our oncologists here in Wales are at the forefront of technological advance.

“It is about precision medicine and making sure we are at the forefront of technology, and key to all of this is the patients we serve, and making sure they are right at the heart of what we do.

“Ryan is well on his way to recovery, and it is a brilliant success story - that someone from ‘down the road’ can come to this centre instead of having to spend eight weeks in the US.”

Health minister Vaughan Gething, who attended to formally open the centre, said Wales can be a “global player” in the race to harness the potential of precision medicine, offering the right tests and treatments at the right time.

“To address future challenges and the increasing burden of disease we must focus more on prevention, early detection and personalised, targeted treatments,” he said.

“Precision medicine will increasingly support a more personalised approach to health and care.

“In Wales, we are already making progress in the field of precision medicine, and I am confident that we can be a global player in the race to harness its potential.

“NHS Wales is on the cusp of realising the significant benefits that can be delivered by advances in precision medicine for patients by offering the right test or treatment at the right time.

“Our long term plan ‘A Healthier Wales’ recognises the importance of moving towards earlier detection and intervention to prevent illness and prolong independence.

“The Rutherford Cancer Centre, which was the first facility in the UK to offer proton beam therapy for cancer patients, is an excellent example of the development of new cancer therapies, here in Wales.

“It’s a perfect illustration of how we are working collaboratively to deliver technological innovations to improve treatment.”

The centre, which opened last spring, is part of a network being created in the UK by Proton Partners International, and was the first in that network to offer proton beam therapy.

The treatment - for otherwise difficult to treat cancers - was available to patients in the UK only on a very limited scale before this initiative.

It has been used at the Newport centre to treat a variety of cancers including breast, head and neck, prostate, and hip.

Mr Gething has published the Welsh Government’s Statement of Intent for Advanced Therapeutic Medicinal Products, which sets out how it aims to deliver precision therapeutics, like new cell therapies, in Wales.

He has also published a Statement of Intent to transform pathology services.