Plans for treatment could save lives

A REVOLUTIONARY treatment which could save the lives of children suffering from cancer could soon be available at a London hospital.

The Department of Health has proposed to create new facilities at the University College London Hospital (UCLH) to offer proton beam therapy – specialised radiotherapy which carries less risk of damaging the brain.

Last year, four-year-old Dagenham boy Fletcher Falvey was treated in the US after he was diagnosed with an anaplastic ependymoma, a rare and aggressive form of brain tumour, in August 2009. His parents Noel and Andrea, who lived in Pondfield Road, Dagenham, launched an appeal to raise the �130,000 for the treatment before moving to Spain and then the US. The treatment was successful but Flecther will need regular checks for several years.

Dad Noel said: “It would be great if proton therapy would be available in England. It’s hard for me to put into words how strongly I feel about this, I just wish every child with cancer could have the same opportunity as Fletcher.”

There is only one hospital in the UK – Clatterbridge Hospital in Wirral – which offers the treatment, but places are limited. The University College London trust has been chosen as a primary delivery site for proton beam therapy, according to a letter the trust received from Department of Health project director Philip Webster.

The project needs to be approved by ministers and the treasury.