Press Review – Proton therapy could help a 11-year-old cancer girl

Ciara Allan suffered a stroke caused by a brain tumor when she was three and has since spent much of her short life fighting against cancer.  Now, thanks to state of the art proton therapy treatment in the US, the young girl and her family have new hope that she will beat the tumor, which had showed new signs of growth.

The 11-year-old is one of the few Scots who have received NHS (National Health Service) funding to travel to the US for proton therapy. Her parents first found out about this kind of treatment after they were told that traditional therapy was not working and their daughter’s tumor was growing. As they were told she needed more surgery and conventional radiotherapy, they discovered she was a strong candidate for proton therapy funded by the NHS.

“Standard radiotherapy was still available on the NHS, but obviously that does a lot of damage to surrounding tissue,” Katie’s dad says. “When we read up on the proton therapy it is a lot more accurate and does a lot less damage to surrounding tissue which when you are taking a brain into consideration is a very big issue, especially for a child. She had already had three major brain surgeries and bits of the brain removed, so we were trying to do as little further damage as possible.”

Katie coped well with the therapy, helped by listening to music: “She listened to her favorite boy’s band and that made her lie there as still as possible every day for the 30 days.” The family must now wait to see if the treatment has been successful, but are confident based on the success seen in other patients.

“It has been amazing coming to Oklahoma and sometimes we have forgotten why we are here, it has been so relaxed. But it has been a big upheaval to come here and if it was available in the UK it would be a lot easier and more readily available to other people. It would be better to have one closer to home. Even for people in Scotland to travel to England for three or four months would be an upheaval almost as much as coming to the US.”