Aurora News

Proton Beam Therapy Facility Commissioning | Aurora

The Christie Hospital in Manchester will soon be the first NHS high energy proton beam therapy facility in the UK.

8 September 2018

The Christie Hospital in Manchester will soon be the first NHS high energy proton beam therapy facility in the UK. A Varian ProBeam Multi-Room solution is being installed which, when complete, will provide three patient treatment rooms and one research area.

The facility is currently undergoing the final stages of commissioning which includes the acceptance of the equipment into clinical use and the critical examination of safety features designed to protect staff.

Radiation Shielding Design

Due to the high energy of the proton beam, a significant amount of radiation shielding (up to 6m concrete) is required in Proton Beam Therapy facilities to ensure that the radiation doses received by staff working in and adjacent to the facility are acceptable and within the legal dose limits.

Aurora used Monte Carlo modelling to specify the radiation shielding design for The Christie’s facility, including the effect of penetrations through the shielding and the use of blocks versus poured concrete in some areas.

Proton Beam Therapy Facility Radiation Shielding Integrity Testing

Aurora has recently completed the first stage of the critical examination of the shielding, around the accelerator and treatment room 1, to ensure it provides the expected level of protection from the radiation produced inside the facility.

The testing required the use of specialist neutron monitoring equipment and access to parts of the facility that are not usually occupied (see above). The results of the testing showed that the shielding is providing at least the expected level of protection. Further testing will be undertaken as each treatment room comes into service.

Why is the New Facility Being Built

Proton Beam Therapy is important because it reduces the amount of radiation dose that is delivered to healthy tissues during external beam radiotherapy. This is particularly important for children, where radiation dose to health tissue can cause cancer later in life, and for tumours close to sensitive organs such as the eyes, heart and spine.

At present, high energy proton beam therapy is only available to a small number of NHS patients, and they have to travel abroad for their treatment. The new facility at The Christie will begin treatment patients later this year and, when fully commissioned, will be able to treat around 750 patients every year.

One Stop Shop for Radiation Protection

Aurora are proud to be involved in such a landmark point in the NHS’s history; being able to include high energy proton beam therapy in the arsenal of radiotherapy techniques for cancer treatment. Since we are able to offer the shielding facility design and the shielding integrity testing, we can be involved throughout the early stages of the building project. As Aurora are experienced in decommissioning radiation facilities, and many projects across all industries, we are confident that we offer a cradle-to-grave suite of radiation protection services.