Tuesday, 2 July 2019

Questions (448)

Maureen O'Sullivan

Question:

448. Deputy Maureen O'Sullivan asked the Minister for Health if he has considered proton beam therapy in the treatment of cancerous tumours; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [27972/19]

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Written answers (Question to Health)

Proton beam therapy is an advanced form of radiotherapy, primarily used in neural and some paediatric cancers. 

Currently in Ireland, patients are referred abroad for proton beam therapy to preferred providers.  Between 2012-2017 an average of 11 patients a year were referred for proton beam therapy in treatment centres abroad under the Treatment Abroad Scheme.  This represents an extremely small proportion of Irish patients who are receiving radiotherapy. 

In February 2019, a National Proton Group was set up by the National Cancer Control Programme, with a mandate to progress and give due consideration to proton therapy.  The work of the National Proton Group includes:

- Carrying out an evidence review of the current clinical indications for proton therapy treatment

- Designing a clinical pathway from Multi-Disciplinary Team to proton therapy services

- Developing a service specification and commissioning framework for any new developments which may happen in Ireland.

The National Cancer Control Programme will continue to monitor the evidence base for proton beam therapy and the number of Irish patients being referred abroad, as well as developments in technology that may impact on the  viability of providing this treatment here.