THE parents of an eight-year-old girl who travelled to America to undergo life-saving treatment for a rare form of cancer say it should be available in the UK.
Lucy Thomas, from Ramsbottom, had to travel across the globe to have proton beam therapy after being diagnosed with rhab-domyosarcoma, a rare and aggressive type of head and neck cancer, at the age of six.
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The treatment is the same being pursued by Brett and Naghmeh King who were arrested and detained in Spain after they took their five-year-old son Ashya, who has a brain tumour, out of the UK to find alternative treatment for him.
They were released after British authorities abandoned their attempts to extradite them amid a public backlash.
A fundraising page set up to help pay for the treatment at the The Proton Therapy Centre in the Czech Republic has so far raised more than £21,000.
Lucy’s parents Caroline and Stuart were advised to apply for funding for the treatment.
Their bid was successful and Lucy is one of around 150 British children each year who go abroad for proton beam therapy at the cost of £100,000 each to the NHS.
Lucy’s dad Stuart said: “The main benefit of having proton beam therapy in the UK is that it will be much more accessible.
“Going to the USA was confusing for Lucy. They have a different health system, work in different ways and call things different names. It would have been much easier for Lucy if this treatment had been available in Manchester.”
The Government has announced plans to build two proton beam therapy centres in the UK at The Christie and University College London Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust in London, which are expected to be open by 2018.
Caroline said: “It’s fantastic that proton beam therapy is finally coming to the UK.”