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New Study Shows Patients Treated With Proton Beam Therapy Face Significantly Lower Side Effects Compared To Conventional Radiotherapy

A senior British oncologist says the landmark study supports what doctors are witnessing at facilities in the UK such as the Rutherford Cancer Centre, in Northumberland, which treats both private and NHS adult patients. The Perelman School of Medicine, at the University of Pennsylvania, formally unveiled the results of the world's biggest proton survey in the current edition of the JAMA Oncology Journal. It expands the initial findings of a comparative study that involved 1483 patients with various types of cancer including:- brain, lung, gastrointestinal, and gynaecological cancers. Of those, 391 received proton therapy; which uses a beam of high energy particles to kill cancer cells; whilst the remainder had conventional radiotherapy. Survival rates were similar between both groups, but side effects linked to toxicity were lower for proton patients.

Professor Karol Sikora, Medical Director of Rutherford Health, said:- "This study shows precisely why the independent health sector in the UK and also the NHS are both investing in proton beam therapy. Patients who have conventional radiotherapy may have to live with side effects for years, whereas with protons there are often no side effects. That is the stunning conclusion of this expanded analysis from the University of Pennsylvania. In the UK, we are seeing that the accuracy of protons is greater than conventional radiotherapy. Proton therapy has a better dose distribution as determined by a planning computer. It is game changing because people with curable cancers no longer have to live with the side effects of conventional radiotherapy, which can be horrendous depending on where the cancer is within their body. In the chest, people may suffer from heart and breathing problems. In the abdomen, patients may face constipation, diarrhoea and irritable bowel syndrome. For head and neck patients, scarring, dry mouth and problems swallowing are all common."

There are currently 4 sites in the UK offering proton beam therapy, the 1st of which was the Rutherford centre in Newport that was officially opened in 2019, by Welsh Health Minister Vaughan Gethin.  The NHS operates a proton facility in Manchester, with 3 further Private Proton Centres currently operated by Rutherford Health in:- Newport, Reading and Bedlington in Northumberland. Further centres are also due to open in both London and Liverpool.

Full time Carers make life changing decision

2 mature student from Hugh Baird College are proving that it's never too late to make a change and develop new skills.

VICTORIA Marshall and Laura Crellin had been undertaking crucial and selfless caring roles and were looking out for everyone, but themselves. But as circumstances changed and their caring responsibilities reduced somewhat, they decided to do something for themselves and took the bold move to return to education. After a long time away from the classroom, this was not a decision taken lightly by the pair, but one that is now really paying dividends and is transforming them as people. There are over 6.5 million people in the UK who are carers for a friend or family member, many of these individual may not even initially see themselves as carers. They are mums and dads, husbands, wives, partners, brothers, sisters, friends and neighbours. They are simply doing what anyone would, looking after a loved one or friend and generally helping where they can. However, this can have a major time draw on those in such roles and often, carers make a number of sacrifices. Victoria, from Liverpool, is a carer for her mum and felt she wanted to start her own business and realised that she needed to gain skills that would enable her to work flexibly around her caring role. In 2018, Victoria enrol on a Level 2 Diploma in Beauty Therapy at Hugh Baird College. This was a pathway she had always had an interest in, but life had just taken over and she'd never found time to pursue her passion.

When Victoria first started at the Hugh Baird College, she was worried that she would feel out of place due to her being a mature student. However, this could not have been further from the truth and with support from College staff and fellow classmates who were also around her age, she thrived and felt her confidence levels and feelings of achievement and pride grow each week she attended her College course. Despite some challenging times in her first year where Victoria had to juggle a number of priorities both in her caring role and her role as a student of the College, she successfully passed her Level 2 Diploma in Beauty Therapy. Buoyed by this success and the feeling of achievement it gave her, Victoria moved on to study for the Level 3 Advanced Technical Diploma in Beauty and Spa Therapy as she felt this qualification would further broaden the treatments she would be able to offer clients once she started her own business.

Victoria said:- "I was so nervous returning to College as a mature student, but I knew it was time for a change and time to put myself first. Being a carer for my Mum is my main priority. But I'm proof that if you want something enough then you can find a way of making it happen. I'm not lying, it has been hard at times, but anything worth having requires hard work and the right attitude. The support you receive from the College is amazing and the tutors understand the external pressures you're dealing with. If they can see you are serious about achieving, then they will go out of their way to support you and help you however they can. I can't speak highly enough of Hugh Baird College and especially the staff in the Beauty Therapy department. Thanks to them I feel like a new person with direction and goals that I'm determined to achieve."

Similar to Victoria, Laura Crellin, from Bootle, had always put others before herself. Laura's eldest son has autism and this required her to be his full time carer and be home to support him should he need her in any way. However, in 2017, with her son in full time education, she decided it was time for her to focus on herself. Laura had left school with very few GCSE's, but having matured and had time to really consider what she wanted from a career and life in general, she took the bold decision to learn what she'd need to do in order to become a Teacher. Laura met with a Careers Advisor at Hugh Baird College and learnt that her route to eventually qualifying as a Teacher would not be straightforward and would require a considerable investment of her time. But she was determined and focussed and enrolled on the first of a number of qualifications she would need to complete in order to get to university and ultimately in a classroom as a Teacher.

In 2018, Laura undertook the Skills for Health and Care Professions qualification, a course that gave her the qualifications to move onto a 1 year Access course that would finally get her to University. During summer, she resat her GCSE's in Maths and English and gained an outstanding grade 8 in her GCSE English and a grade 5 in her GCSE Maths exams. Laura said:- "I am so thankful I decided to return to education, it hasn't been easy but the support from family, friends, tutors and peers has been amazing. It's quite a shock to the system going back to college as a mature student but I have loved every minute of it, my whole educational journey has been with Hugh Baird College and I am so grateful for the encouragement, inspiration and support I have received every step of the way. Deciding to take a step back from caring for my son full-time was a very hard decision to make, but I am so glad I did, one day his Mum will be a Teacher!"

As a further education college, Hugh Baird College has a moral duty to support all students who identify as a carer starting from day 1. Once a student is identified as a carer a support plan is in place in collaboration with:- 'Sefton Young Carers. Sefton Young Carers' provide a Carer's assessment which looks at the different ways that a student's caring role affects their life and makes sure that they can carry on doing the things that are important to them. For more information on the support available at Hugh Baird College website or alternatively  you can also call:- 0151 353 4444.

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