‘Miracle’ cure

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As a paediatric radiotherapist I was disappointed to see a misleading headline that is likely to cause worry and distress to parents of children with medulloblastoma – “‘Miracle’ of Ashya cancer treatment shines spotlight on proton therapy” (24 March).

Cure rates of medulloblastoma are high and continually rising using surgery, chemotherapy and conventional radiotherapy available for every child in the UK.

To see persistent tumour on scan six months or so after any radiotherapy would be highly unlikely and very disappointing, but unfortunately does not represent cure. The advantage of protons over conventional photons is reduction of late side effects of treatment, but this has not yet been proven and large scale trials are ongoing.

Proton treatment for children with medulloblastoma must be regarded as experimental and may in the long run not be superior to standard photon radiotherapy. Children with brain tumours need access to specialised teams of experts in all treatment disciplines and these are available in all large centres in the UK.

Anna Gregor CBE 
FRCP, FRCR

Spylaw Bank Road

Edinburgh

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