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If only brain tumour research could be funded in the same way as leukaemia and other cancers

Parliament discusses patients travelling for proton beam therapy

The number of patients traveling abroad to receive proton beam therapy in the last 5 years has been published by the Government. In response to a question by Tessa Munt, Member of Parliament for Wells, Jane Ellison MP, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Public Health, published the figures below that show the number of patients funded for the treatment increasing from 20 to 124 in the last five years.

Children Adults Total Location
2009-10 8 12 20 France, USA and Switzerland
2010-11 30 20 50 USA (38 patients) and Switzerland (12)
2011-12 66 13 79 USA (majority of patients) and Switzerland
2012-13 83 16 99 USA (majority of patients) and Switzerland
2013-141 103 21 124 All USA
1 Figure includes treatments given and treatments due to be given following approval.

Proton treatment works by targeting radiation in a range of beams from different directions at a tumour, leaving healthy tissue surrounding the tumour unharmed. There are several countries that offer this therapy but the majority of the patients from the UK have travelled to the USA. While it is currently unavailable on the NHS, from 2018 it will be available to patients across the country at University College London Hospital and The Christie in Manchester.

We would like to thank Tessa Munt MP for her question and raising the issue of access to proton therapy treatments up the political agenda. As the recent Ashya King story has reminded us, all families want the best treatment for their loved ones and are willing to travel vast distances to secure it. We believe more funding should be guaranteed so that new treatments such as proton beam therapy are both created and available in the UK.

You can sign our epetition calling for government to act on brain tumours at http://epetitions.direct.gov.uk/petitions/55378

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