NCRI2017 Liverpool 7.11.17

Here are today’s key points.

Proton beam therapy is AMAZING. Here’s a quick layman’s guide. 50% of all cancers, are treated by surgery 40% by radio therapy, and 20 % by chemo. That adds up to more than 100% because some are used in combination. This means that radiotherapy is a real work horse in cancer treatment. The trouble with radiotherapy is that it is rather like a cannon ball. It, hopefully, obliterates the tumour but damages healthy tissue on the way in, on the way out, and around the tumour. This is why so many cervical cancer patients who have received RT have ongoing bowel and bladder problems, and sexual functioning problems due to scar tissue in their vaginas. When brain tumours are blasted it doesn’t take a huge amount of imagination to realise that serious damage can be done along with potential curative benefit.

Proton beam therapy isn’t thought to be any more effective at blasted the tumour, but it is FAR more accurate. The beam can go in causing minimum damage, blasts when it hits the tumour, then leave the body again with minimal damage. More like a bullet that only explodes when it hits it target; the tumour.

One massive problem. The machines are hugely expensive. Similar in price to a fighter jet. Choices, choices!

The next session was about lifestyle. Smoking and being fat are bad for you apparently. I smoke and I’m fat. That session made me want to have a cigarette and eat cake. I don’t think that would of been her desired intention.

Last session of the day was about Patient reported outcomes. What patients report as symptoms and outcomes of their treatment. However the clinicians decide what subjects the patients should report on! I was on top form, said some slightly contentious things, which led to a few rounds of applause, and an invite from the Professor to join him for some upcoming work in the West country. Bingo!

The evening found us at the Maritime Museum for a drinks reception (my idea of hell) and then a FANTASTIC and I mean FANTASTIC production by teenage and young adults about their experiences of cancer. One of the experiences recounted was of a cervical cancer patient. Nearly lost it. Didn’t.

‘There is a light: BRIGHTLIGHT theatre performance during the evening. An original performance inspired by the findings of BRIGHTLIGHT, the first major study of its kind, There is a Light presents young patients’ perspectives on specialist cancer care in England. Directed by award-winning artist Adura Onashile the show is developed in collaboration with Brian Lobel, BRIGHTLIGHT’s researchers, youth board and young people with personal experience of cancer.’

So many conversations with so many interesting people, so much information, so many ideas and plans to formulate!





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