BBC showcases The Christie's proton beam therapy service
The BBC’s science and technology documentary, Horizon, went behind the scenes at the proton beam therapy centre at The Christie on Monday 22 July 2019.
It is currently available on BBC iPlayer.
You can read more about this in our news story.
All three treatment gantries now clinical
In recent weeks, gantry 3 has become clinical and patient treatments are now being delivered in this treatment room.
As with the two other gantries, gantry 3 went through a period of commissioning during which the physics and engineering teams tested the performance of the treatment system to ensure it is safe, reliable and fit for clinical treatment delivery.
All three treatment gantries are now clinical and this exciting milestone shows the proton beam therapy service is getting busier as we treat more and more patients.
Proton beam therapy clinical trials
The introduction of a proton beam therapy (PBT) service within the UK allows us to pose important research questions relating to the development and appropriate use of this exciting new technology.
Through robust clinical trials, we will look at patients and see how PBT can benefit them. This means all clinical decisions are based on high quality evidence.
The Christie actively participates in a large number of clinical trials within the photon radiotherapy department, with new trials opening on a regular basis. With the addition of PBT, there has already been a number of clinical trials opening and recruiting for both adult and paediatric patients. We expect numbers of trials to increase as the service develops further.
You can find out more about clinical trials you might be eligible for by speaking to your doctor or another member of your clinical team.
Paediatric patient information booklets
We have a new range of booklets for child proton beam therapy patients. Our health play specialist team worked on these booklets to provide helpful information and support.
The team worked with families who have had proton beam therapy treatment. This helped to define what information patients and families need when they visit the proton beam therapy centre at The Christie.
Health play specialist, Penelope Hart-Spencer, describes the design process: “The families and patients were keen to have colourfully illustrated information in an easy-to-use format. A paediatric workshop was set up and within that, children were given lots of colour schemes and themes to choose from.
“There was an overwhelming favourite theme of animals; with a panda being the preferred animal. Following this, it was decided that the character which would feature in the information for children would be a ‘proton panda’.
“As a team we felt it was important to listen to the experience of previous proton patients and enable them to help shape the paediatric patient information within our centre.”
We have different booklets for children of different ages. We also have other booklets if the patient is awake during treatment or having treatment under general anaesthetic. Patients get their booklets when they arrive at the centre and a member of the health play specialist team will work through the booklet with the patient.
As well as the booklets, the friendly characters also appear in the paediatric play preparation room. This helps to make it a pleasant and interesting space for children.
Penelope said: “We now have a magnetic wall which has an array of characters and magnets shaped as proton masks and central lines for us to use in our therapeutic and specialised play sessions with children.
“The characters and magnets will help children to learn about proton beam therapy treatment and also offers an opportunity for them explore and work through their thoughts and feelings surrounding their treatment, in a supported manner.”
You can see our new paediatric booklets on our proton beam therapy patient information page.
Gracie completes her proton beam therapy
YouTuber Gracie was recently diagnosed with a brain tumour and after surgery, she came to The Christie for proton beam therapy.
Gracie decided to make a video about her treatment to show other proton beam patients what the experience was like.
After 28 sessions of proton beam therapy, Gracie completed her treatment. She got to ring the end of treatment bell in May 2019, signifying a successful end to her proton beam therapy.
Follow Gracie’s journey via her vlog:
Clinical fellows in proton beam therapy
Simona Gaito, James Price and Shermaine Pan are clinical fellows, currently working in proton beam therapy. Simona is a young oncology clinical fellow and both James and Shermaine are proton clinical fellows.
Read more about them on our clinical fellows page.
Paediatric research nurse joins the proton beam therapy team
The proton beam therapy (PBT) department would like to welcome Leanne Simms, paediatric research nurse to the team.
Leanne brings 10 years of paediatric nursing experience to the team. She has worked at The Royal Manchester Children's Hospital for nine years caring for children undergoing surgical procedures and spent the last year of her career at the Salford Royal Hospital working in theatres.
Leanne describes her new role and how she feels about joining the PBT service:
"I am looking forward to adapting the skills I have learnt into my new role on the proton day unit. The day unit is an area used to prepare and care for children who require a general anaesthetic when undergoing their proton treatment.
"From my experience, I am able to relate and empathise with these children and families to ensure they feel supported throughout their journey at the PBT centre.
"Another aspect to my role is working as a clinical research nurse. Working alongside children who are on clinical trials whilst coming for their treatment at the PBT centre is crucial to ensure we are giving our patients the best available treatment."
One in a million cancer patient starts proton beam treatment at The Christie
A woman diagnosed with a one in a million cancer has started life-saving treatment at the proton beam therapy centre at The Christie. Gail Nicholls, aged 47, was diagnosed with a sacral chordoma – an incredibly rare tumour which grows in the spine.
You can read more about Gail's story in our press release.
Wall art in paediatric waiting area
Several of the paediatric areas in the proton beam therapy centre have recently come to life after the installation of wall art designs. The range of animal graphics have transformed the paediatric waiting area, day unit and anaesthetic areas.
The animal characters, which go on a journey across rooms, can be seen gracing the walls and ceilings and help to create a friendly distraction for paediatric patients. Characters include elephants, lions, birds, koala bears as well as the familiar face of the proton panda hiding in each room for the patient to find.
The wall art has added lots of colour and friendly faces to the walls and will hopefully help to put paediatric patients using these areas at ease.
Read The Christie blog by our lead radiographer
Our lead radiographer Hazel Pennington has shared her thoughts on what it was like to get the proton beam therapy service ready to treat patients on The Christie blog.
Read Hazel’s blog to find out more about the launch of the proton beam therapy service.
Welcome to our new senior radiographers
Since the beginning of December 2018, the proton beam therapy centre has welcomed four new senior radiographers into the proton treatment team. Some of them have made the transition from our radiotherapy department at The Christie, while others have relocated to join us.
When asked how she feels about joining the team, Janeen Kirwan, who joins us from the St. Luke’s Radiotherapy Centre in Dublin, said, “I am excited to be part of such an enthusiastic and professional team in the delivery of innovative proton beam therapy to adults and children attending The Christie”.
Dave Roberts who previously worked at The Royal Marsden, Sutton also said, “I am very excited to be part of this groundbreaking treatment and to work within a wonderful multi-disciplinary team.”
The proton beam therapy team is growing even bigger and we look forward to working alongside the new radiographers as we treat many more patients this year.
The School at The Christie
Daily attendance for proton beam therapy treatment may interfere with your child’s ability to attend school on a regular basis. All children of school age who are receiving proton beam therapy treatment at the hospital will be offered teaching in our classroom.
You can read more about the School on our teaching service page.
Boy with rare brain tumour treated at the proton beam therapy centre at The Christie
Mason Kettley was diagnosed with a brain tumour in October 2018. In January, he started world-leading treatment at the NHS’s new proton beam therapy centre at The Christie hospital in Manchester.
You can read more about Mason's story in our press release.
After his first week of treatment, Mason received a special invite to watch Manchester City take on Burnley. Mason is a massive City fan so the club invited him and his family for a VIP day out at the Etihad stadium.
First proton beam therapy patient treated at The Christie
The proton beam therapy centre at The Christie is proud to announce that it treated its first patient in December 2018. The team are delighted to reach this key milestone and plan to treat more patients in the new year.
End to end testing
Following ProBeam applications training, the radiographers have been testing out the gantries. The team has been delivering proton beams and taking scans and X-ray images of anatomically realistic phantoms. The phantoms are designed to replicate human anatomy and to safely test out the hardware and software of the ProBeam system. The end-to-end testing period has allowed the radiographers to review their working practices and develop detailed documents that will inform their practice when treating patients.