In 2018 The Christie will become home to one of only two high energy NHS proton beam therapy (PBT) centres in the UK. PBT is an advanced form of radiotherapy used for the treatment of complex, hard-to-treat cancers in children and adults. It uses a high energy beam of protons rather than high energy X-rays to deliver a dose of radiotherapy. The radiation treatment is directed precisely where it is needed with minimal damage to surrounding tissue. Currently patients have to travel abroad for PBT but from 2018 they will benefit from local access to this advanced treatment.
Many exceptional challenges have been conquered during the construction of this £100m facility. In the first instance the site for the new PBT centre was restricted being located in the heart of a residential area and adjacent to the UK’s busiest cancer hospital.
Secondly the highly complex PBT installation required pioneering design and construction techniques:
- To house the 90-ton cyclotron capable of accelerating a proton stream of ionized hydrogen gas to over 100,000 miles per second
- To cool the cyclotron which uses superconducting magnets cooled by liquid helium to -269C and coils of copper wire 30km long
- To support the structure the building sits on 270 separate timber, steel or concrete posts driven into the ground
- To power the facility. The proton beam therapy power station provides enough energy to power the whole of Trafford Park
- And, most importantly, to provide a world-class patient treatment and research environment.