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5th May 2022

First Welsh patient to receive ground-breaking treatment to treat throat cancer

The first Welsh patient has been recruited into a ground-breaking trial to compare two types of radiotherapy for oropharyngeal cancer.

The trial called TORPEdO (TOxicity Reduction using Proton bEam therapy for Oropharyngeal cancer) is a UK-wide study, funded by Cancer Research UK and run by the Institute of Cancer Research, is looking at the current standard photon (X-rays) radiotherapy compared to proton radiotherapy.

Traditional radiation, photon radiotherapy, delivers x-rays, to the tumour and beyond it. This can damage nearby healthy tissues and can cause significant side effects. By contrast, proton therapy delivers a beam of proton particles which stops at the tumour, so it’s less likely to damage nearby healthy tissues.

This trial, which is headed locally by Principal Investigator and Clinical Oncologist Dr Russell Banner, splits the participants into groups where a third will receive standard photon radiotherapy and two thirds will receive proton beam therapy with all patients also receiving non-investigational chemotherapy.

Dr Russell Banner at the South West Wales Cancer Centre, Swansea Bay said: “The primary aim of the trial is to assess whether the current radiotherapy (IMRT – photons) or a new radiotherapy (IMPT – protons) gives patients with newly diagnosed oropharyngeal cancer better long-term outcomes.

“We’re looking for improvements to patient’s quality of life and swallowing function 12 months following treatment along with other long term side effects and the cost of each treatment.

“We successfully enrolled the first Welsh patient into the TORPEdO trial where they will receive care in the South West Wales Cancer Centre in Swansea – as well as treatment at The Christie NHS Foundation Trust in Manchester.

“The research team, the patient and their family are thrilled to be embarking on his treatment journey in the coming weeks.

“This is the first of a number of pioneering proton beam trials that are emerging across treatment sites. Hopefully this is the beginning of an advancing and exciting radiotherapy service for patients accessible across Wales and the rest of the country!”

Dr Nicola Williams, National Director of Support & Delivery at Health and Care Research Wales, said: “This trial is extremely exciting and could revolutionise the way in which we treat cancer across the UK. I’m so proud that staff and patients from Swansea are playing an integral part and that we are able to offer patients in Wales treatment choices as part of research”

For more information about this trial visit Cancer Research UK or The Institute of Cancer Research.

In order to join a trial you will need to discuss it with your doctor, however to see the research being conducted in Wales and opportunities to help shape research visit our Take Part in research pages.