Retired businessman from Norfolk ‘cancer free’ after flying 600 miles for treatment
- Credit: Copyright: Archant 2018
A retired businessman is calling for greater access to pioneering cancer technology after flying 600 miles for treatment.
Jim Graham, 66, from Newton Flotman, was diagnosed with prostate cancer after noticing spots of blood in his urine last year.
He was told by doctors he faced months of radiotherapy, which could leave him with bowel and bladder problems for the rest of his life.
Having seen his wife, Anne, undergo similar treatment for breast cancer, he looked into proton beam therapy, which is not yet widely available in the UK. After a six-week course at the Proton Therapy Center in Prague, Czech Republic, which cost £30,000, he said he is now 'cancer free'.
Mr Graham said his problems started last May when a biopsy at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital confirmed he had prostate cancer.
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'When I was first diagnosed they told me my cancer was at a T2, which meant it hadn't spread outside the prostate,' he said.
'Later they said it was more like a T3, meaning it had broken outside the prostate gland.'
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The proton beam treatment is not yet widely available in the UK, but the government has committed £250m to developing it.
Two facilities are being built in Manchester and London.
Proton therapy is a type of radiotherapy that uses a beam to precisely pin-point the tumour. Because of its precision it can protect the healthy surrounding tissue.
Mr Graham said: 'Doctors told me what they could do for me in this country but never mentioned there were alternatives abroad. They didn't even tell me the treatment existed.'
Mr Graham said he is still on hormone treatment and has to take pills daily for another nine months.
An NHS England spokesperson said: 'The NHS does fund proton beam therapy in this country and internationally where top doctors say it is advantageous, but it is not proven to be a better treatment for prostate cancer than the best options already available on the NHS.
'Together with the Department of Health we are also now funding the development of two new world class PBT centres in Manchester, which will open in 2018, and in London in 2020, to treat an estimated 1,500 cancer patients a year.'