Proton Beam Therapy in Ireland
CANCER sufferers will be given greater access to a pioneering treatment as a leading centre looks to expand in Ireland.
Proton beam therapy, which uses positively-charged particles to destroy cancerous cells, is not currently available in the country.
But specialists from the Proton Therapy Center in Prague, Czech Republic say they hope to “bridge the gap” in cancer care by setting up a new network of proton therapy pioneers.
Medical director Dr Jiri Kubes says specialists will be looking to share their experiences of proton therapy with local professionals and make access to the technology smoother.
At the moment, cancer patients looking to explore their proton therapy options face travelling to Europe or the US.
Dr Kubes said: “The general public is becoming increasingly aware of the benefits of proton therapy, and we are seeing a growing number of patients from Ireland enquiring about what proton therapy can do for them.
“Most of the enquiries are from patients with prostate cancer who are looking for treatments which preserve bowel and sexual functions.”
Traditional treatment options for prostate cancer – the most common male cancer in Irish men – can often lead to erectile dysfunction and urinary incontinence.
Unlike traditional radiotherapy using X-rays, proton therapy can pin-point the precise area to target, preserving healthy tissue surrounding the tumour while reducing toxicities and minimising harmful side-effects.
Dr Kubes added: “In the last four years, since the centre opened, we have achieved excellent results and are excited to be able to share our knowledge so that patients in Ireland can directly benefit and proton therapy will become more readily accessible.”
John O’Kelly, 68, from Limerick, was diagnosed with prostate cancer two years ago after experiencing a sudden and frequent need to visit the bathroom.
John was advised to ‘watch and wait’ to see how his cancer progressed.
But frustrated with advice and determined to carry on living life to the full, John travelled to the Proton Therapy Center for treatment.
John said: “I wasn’t happy. I just thought ‘This isn’t me’, I’m not used to sitting and doing nothing.
“I thought it was only going to go one way, and by then I might have no option but to have fairly aggressive treatments, which I did not want to do.
“I had already read about how surgery could leave you with incontinence.”
John was treated with five hyper fractions over a two-week period, going in for treatment every other day.
He said: “They were reassuring and very professional and put me at ease from the word go.”
John says he’s now cancer-free and has no regrets about seeking healthcare elsewhere.
For further info please visit Proton Therapy Ireland