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A cancer treatment that is currently available to only a limited number of UK patients is to be tested in a countrywide clinical trial to see if it causes fewer long-term side effects than standard radiotherapy.

The APPROACH brain cancer trial, which is now recruiting patients at Oxford University Hospitals, as well as in Leeds, Manchester, London, Cambridge and Kent, will determine whether proton beam therapy can reduce the long-term side effects of radiotherapy and improve the quality of life of patients compared with photon radiotherapy, the current standard treatment used globally.

The technology uses a beam of a highly charged proton particles to destroy cancer cells. It does this by releasing a powerful burst of energy at the tumour site, delivering less radiation to the surrounding normal tissue.

The clinical trial, funded by the National Institute for Health and Care Research (NIHR) and led by the University of Leeds, is open to patients with a type of brain cancer called oligodendroglioma that is diagnosed in about 350 UK patients per year.

Specialist teams at University College London Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust and The Christie NHS Foundation Trust in Manchester – the UK’s two proton beam therapy treatment centres – will lead on the development and delivery of proton beam therapy for this new clinical indication and support patients and families through treatment.

Dr Louise Murray, of the University of Leeds School of Medicine and co-lead for the trial, said: “We really need to know if this new technique can help reduce damage to the healthy brain tissue that surrounds a tumour, so that fewer patients have their lives affected by cognitive problems, such as difficulties with memory and processing information; problems like these can have a huge impact on daily life.

“This trial is vital to determine how we can use radiotherapy treatments appropriately, to give patients the best possible future.”

Groundbreaking proton beam therapy cancer trial opens | University of Leeds

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