Prostate cancer is the most common cancer in UK men and proton therapy has been shown to be an effective treatment, but it is not readily available for patients on the NHS.
Consultant urologist Dr Petr Holy will head up the new facility at Kingston Private Health based in Kingston Hospital.
He says he will be “happy to advise” patients on proton therapy as a treatment option. If suitable he will refer them to the established Proton Therapy Center in Prague, Czech Republic – an international institution that’s treated many people from the UK for the past decade.
Dr Holy, an NHS and private consultant who is an expert in the management of prostate diseases, said: “I have a special interest in the diagnosis of prostate cancer and minimally invasive treatment of ageing male associated problems, or any prostate or bladder related issues.
“We will be providing robust diagnostic tools using modern, up to date, minimally invasive procedures.
“There is no 100% accurate test to diagnose prostate cancer but a simple blood test, known as a PSA test, is very helpful to pre-select men at risk and highlight a potential problem in the prostate.”
According to Prostate Cancer UK, around one in eight men in the UK will get the disease at some point during their lifetime.
But the charity says the Covid pandemic has had a huge impact on the number of urgent referrals by GPs in England, with “more than 8,600 fewer men in England starting treatment for prostate cancer in 2020 that in the previous year”.
It mainly affects men over the age of 50. Black males and those with a family history of the condition can be at greater risk.
Treatment options vary depending on the exact location of the cancer and how advanced it is.
Proton therapy is a less invasive form of radiotherapy that targets tumours with pencil-point precision, hoping to spare damage to nearby organs and healthy tissue.
It uses a beam of positively-charged particles, travelling at 100,000 miles per hour, which is said to have a better chance of destroying the tumour.
This can lead to fewer side effects including urinary incontinence and loss of sexual function.
NHS centres offering proton therapy have been established in Manchester and at University College London, but the treatment is not routinely offered for prostate cancer on the NHS.
Patients can however opt to have the treatment privately and it is covered by some UK health insurance companies.
Dr Holy said: “As it is now, the NHS restricts proton beam treatment to only certain types of cancers. Prostate cancer is not included.
“The clinic in Kingston will allow local referral and follow-up for patients from the UK who have had proton beam therapy.”