February 4, 2016, by Emma Rayner

Cancer experts say more work needed to test benefits of proton beam therapy

Professor David Walker from our Children’s Brain Tumour Research Centre is among a group of UK paediatric oncologists to caution that recent media reports have exaggerated the results of an American study of the benefits of proton beam radiotherapy in children with medulloblastoma.

The team of leading experts are part of the Children’s Cancer and Leukaemia Group — the UK and Ireland’s professional body for those who treat and care for children with cancer.

The Group has welcomed the results of a study by a research team in Boston, USA, which examined the use of proton radiotherapy for treating paediatric medulloblastoma in a non-randomised, single centre phase 2 clinical trial.

In a statement, the CCLG experts said the study concludes that proton therapy may be an alternative to conventional radiotherapy but that more work is needed to find out whether or not it is a better treatment.

The use of proton beam radiotherapy was in the media spotlight in 2014 in the case of Ashya King, the five-year-old brain tumour patient who was removed from Southampton General Hospital by his parents after disagreeing with doctors about his treatment.

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