In 1989 following funding from Joseph K Douglas (after whom the building is named), the Imperial Cancer Research Fund, Cancer Research Campaign and local charities led to the introduction of treatment for tumours in the eye. The 60 MeV proton beam has a maximum range of 31mm in water and is exceptionally suitable for treating any position within the eye.
We are specifically concerned with treating cancers of the eye. The most common lesions we treat are choroidal melanomas (malignant growth of the inside lining of the eye), but we also treat choroidal haemangiomas (spread of rogue blood vessels), iris melanomas (melanomas in the coloured part of your eye) and conjunctival melanomas (melanomas on the white of the eye and lid).
The treatment works by sterilising the tumour cells so that they can no longer grow. The results vary depending on the size and position of the lesion but for small lesions particularly, the success rate is extremely high. The peculiarity of proton beams - specifically the precisely-controlled way they reach the tumour and then fall off sharply – is used to limit or indeed avoid damage to any critical tissue close to the tumour.
Eye tumour specialists at the following four ophthalmological tumour centres refer all patients requiring proton therapy for eye disease to our service: