The government made an announcement today about taking the first few steps in making available an advanced form of radiation treatment for children with rare cancers.
This development has come up thanks to Ros Barnes, who had to knock on USA to seek help for her five year old son, Alex, who was diagnosed with a rare anaplastic ependymoma brain tumour when he was three. As was too young for radiotherapy, he was operated upon, yet his cancer resurfaced. The only choice in the UK from the NHS was radiotherapy which would have caused brain damage.
The family sought the assistance of the public about his condition which helped them with the finances to take him to USA. There he received proton beam therapy, which is a type of radiotherapy that directs the beam spot on the tumour, thus protecting the surrounding healthy tissues from damage. Alex returned home after a successful treatment with no ill-effects except loss of hair.
Health minister Ann Keen announced today that the government was very keen to establish proton beam therapy in the UK. She said, "We want to make sure that cancer services in the England are world class and that NHS patients receive the best quality treatment. Having proton beam therapy will mean that they will receive a better quality of treatment and will not suffer from potential side effects such as hearing loss and reduced IQ. It is also good news for scientists and academics who will ensure that the UK, with its current expertise, remains at the forefront of new technologies and science."
Ecstatic with the development Barnes said. "I am grateful that the government listened when I told them how hard it was for Alex and I to get on that plane, and leave my family and my home without the support of all of the health professionals that we know and trust. I know now that in the future, little children in England will get the best cancer care on the planet because the new proton centre will be run by NHS staff and that my little boy has, in a small way contributed to it."