Protons progress archive

March 2018

Visit by CLIC Sargent Nurse educator (North)

The Christie proton beam therapy centre received a visit from Linda Sanderson this month. Linda is a CLIC Sargent Nurse Educator. Linda was keen to update her knowledge on the development of the centre and pass this onto other CLIC Sargent Nurses in the North of the UK.

“It was great to meet the expert team who are preparing to care for Children, young people and their families when the centre opens,” said Linda.

The proton team hopes to see Linda and her colleagues again in the future once we are up and running. 

Cyclotron Commissioning 

The Cyclotron commissioning is nearing completion. The cyclotron is the machine that accelerates protons up to an extremely high speed. Internal efficiency of the cyclotron is at 100%, with the extraction of protons currently at 82%. The cyclotron is working well within expected guidelines.

Energy Selection system (ESS) commissioning

The next part of the project underway is the commissioning of the Energy Selection system (ESS). The ESS allows different energies of proton beam to be available for clinical treatment. The energies range from 70 MeV to 250MeV. The commissioning is completed by inserting a water tank into the beam line and measuring the beam energy. Once this is completed, the proton beam is taken into Gantry room 1. This will happen over the next few weeks.

Beam Transport System (BTS)

Beam Transport System (BTS) has been leak tested in preparation for the proton beam to be taken into the different gantry rooms.

Gantry Room 1 

Gantry room 1 has now completed installation of ProBeam Machine Control Software, and the gantry now moves under its own steam. This is a very important milestone. The treatment room is near completion ready for building handover next month.

Team site visit 

Radiographers from the proton therapy team completed a site visit this month. The team was impressed with the progress of Gantry 1 and had a sneak peek behind the scenes. 

CT and MRI Scanners delivery and acceptance 

Both the CT and MR scanners have been delivered installed and accepted. Both machines are now operational and staff have started to receive training.  

Last week we took our first human images on the proton MRI scanner, those images were healthy volunteers from our staff group. They represent several very exciting milestones, including: 

  • The first persons scanned on the PBT MRI scanner
  • The first human image captured on the Philips new MR RT scanner in the UK
  • The first person scanned on The Christie’s first dedicated MR scanner for radiotherapy planning  

Commissioning of both scanners has been started by radiotherapy physics and will continue for several weeks. 

The first patient volunteers will be scanned on the MRI scanner and radiotherapy patients will be scanned on the new CT at the end of May. 

February 2018 

Staff trip to Maryland, USA 

Four of the new superintendent radiographers visited the Maryland Proton Treatment Centre in Baltimore, United States. The trip lasted a week, involving five working days in the department, becoming familiar with the equipment currently being installed at The Christie.

It was especially useful for us to see how it is used by the “Radiotherapists” (as the staff are known in America). We learnt a great deal from the visit and were provided with a huge amount of support and time to answer the large number of questions we had. We all remarked how important the trip was, as no amount of UK based research could replicate the experience of working with a fully functioning department. 

Appointment of the Superintendent radiographers 

From February 2018, the Christie proton team has grown as more radiographers have come into post. The team consists of therapeutic and diagnostic radiographers from both sides of the profession. The new team is working to develop the proton beam service as we move ever closer to opening. Members of the team have completed training nationally and internationally to develop their skills to bring the most effective and efficient service to patients. 

“I’m hugely excited and proud to join the team in this project of national importance, bringing PBT (Proton Beam Therapy) to The Christie and subsequently to the NHS for the first time. Having worked with the majority of the people recruited in various previous radiotherapy roles, I’m assured of the ability of the team to deliver what is required.” David Kirk, superintendent radiographer 

The team is keen to continue the development of the first NHS PBT service. #Christieprotons 

January 2018

Patient Engagement Day 

The Christie proton therapy team has hosted its third patient engagement day. In attendance were many patients and carers who have previously had proton treatment in the US. The day was used to find out about their experience of receiving proton therapy. We wanted to know about the positive and negative experiences of the treatment. As this was the third patient engagement day, we also wanted to build upon ideas from the previous engagement days, to ensure we are on the right track. The staff were all really inspired by the patients and their stories and so grateful for their time. 

James Donnelly, superintendent radiographer, said: “This has been my first patient engagement day. I have taken a lot on board. It has been good to see treatment from a patient's perspective. This event is something I can reflect upon and use to help develop my skills in delivering proton beam therapy.” 

It was a well-attended day and we hope it will result in patients who will feel well informed and well supported during their treatment at the Christie proton beam centre once we open. 

November 2017 

Radiographer visit to Varian Clinical School and Maryland Proton Therapy Centre 

Radiographers attended an intensive 3-day proton course hosted by the Maryland Proton Therapy Centre (MPTC) with international delegates from the US and Taiwan to learn the fundamentals of proton therapy theory, planning, treatment.  The visit allowed us to learn from the experiences of the proton therapy centre, which has been treating patients for 18 months. 

The radiographers had a one-week placement, shadowing the clinical staff on the proton treatment floor, which included time in the CT scanner and treatment gantries to get a full overview of the clinical proton practice. This helped to inform clinical decisions regarding treatment protocols, imaging protocols and patient information. 

September 2017 

We are pleased to announce that all of the large treatment equipment for the proton therapy centre has now been installed in the building.  The roof hatches have been closed and we no longer require the crane. This work has been completed about one month ahead of programme. Click here for further information.  

June 2017 

Delivery of the Cyclotron 

May 2017

Click here for details of upcoming deliveries to the proton beam site that may temporarily affect parking on Oak Road.

March 2017 

The cyclotron is the machine which accelerates Protons up to an extremely high speed. These are then delivered using powerful magnets to the three Treatment Rooms as well as to the research room for work with The University of Manchester.  

The Christie cyclotron has been built by Varian in Troisdorf, Germany and is due to be transported to the Christie site during the summer. The cyclotron weighs the same as a Boeing 747 and is the size of a family car. Varian name each of the cyclotrons they produce and have chosen to name our cyclotron ‘Emmeline’ in recognition of the famous Mancunian Emmeline Pankhurst. The photo below shows senior members of the Christie team visiting Emmeline in Germany. 

February 2017 

This photo shows the inside of the first treatment room to be completed which is now ready for equipment delivery in the Summer. The image shows how large the room needs to be to house the equipment. The beamline will enter the room through the space currently taken by the doorway you can see. 

Once the equipment has been installed the room will be fully fitted out to look similar to the image below.

December 2016 

Construction works on the Proton site are continuing to programme.  The below photos are taken from roof level and show the completed concrete works to two of the main treatment rooms.  

The below photo shows a view into the 4th room  which will be used for research.  The 3rd treatment room has now reached a similar stage of completion and the contractor is beginning internal fit out works in this room  ready for delivery of the equipment in June 2017. 

14th July 2016  

The Christie, together with partners in University College London Hospital (ULCH), applied in May 2016 to host the Particle Therapy Co-Operative Group Annual Congress (PTCOG). This conference brings together more than 1000 leading clinicians, physicists and other practitioners in particle therapy to share the latest clinical, scientific and industrial developments and showcase the latest technology which can enable organisations to improve patient treatment. The recent conference in Prague attracted more than 1100 unique delegates from all across the world, and over the next two years will be hosted in Yokohama (Japan) and Cincinnati (USA) before returning to Europe and Manchester in 2019.  

The bid was presented to the PTCOG global steering committee, composed of leaders of Proton and Heavy Ion treatment centres around the world, and was awarded to Manchester the same day, seeing off a competing bid from Krakow (Poland). Although the bid is a joint enterprise between the Trusts, the PTCOG conference, which takes place over 6 days, will be fully hosted in Manchester and take place at Manchester Central. Marketing Manchester estimate that, should the same number of delegates visit as did for Prague, that winning the conference will be worth more than £1.4m to the local economy, as well as attracting the best scientific minds to Manchester and raising the profile of The Christie and the NHS National Proton Therapy Programme.   

The Christie and UCLH were supported by Marketing Manchester, the Kenes Group and Clatterbridge, and received a long list of supporting letters from key individuals and institutions, including the Secretary of State for Health, Chief Exec for NHS England, the Royal College of Radiographers, CERN and the National Physics Laboratory, and many more. A copy of the bid book the Manchester team took to the conference can be found at this link. The Christie’s Proton Beam Therapy centre, due to commence treating patients in 2018, is of major interest to delegates attending this conference and was at the heart of the bid.  

More information about the conference is available  by contacting Jim Weightman on

7th July 2016   

Major structural work is continuing on our Proton Beam Therapy Centre site and over the next month work will progress to the columns, walls and floor slabs in the bunkers and cyclotron areas.  

Block A towards the back of the site is currently being clad and the internal fit-out of the building has begun.  

9th May 2016 – building progress update 

The proton beam therapy centre is progressing well and has now cast all of the ground floor slabs in the bunker areas; this now leaves the cyclotron slabs to be completed. The walls are progressing well and over the next month the first floor slabs are being cast to the bunkers. 

The first part of the site to be complete was handed over to the Trust this month with the early provision of the new major substation on Palatine Road. Cladding is progressing to the block A structure adjacent to the School of Oncology. 

10th - 14th July 2016 

The Christie will run an advanced radiotherapy summer school to learn about recent advances in radiotherapy from leading practitioners in the field. Monday 11th July is dedicated to proton beam therapy. Find out more about the course on The Christie School of Oncology web page.

3rd May 2016 

These are our first images of the Varian cyclotron C14 which will be installed in the Proton Beam Therapy Centre in early 2017. It will supply the beam of protons to the three treatment rooms and the research room. The cyclotron weighs more than a jumbo jet but is not much larger than a family car! 

A cyclotron is a compact particle accelerator that uses electromagnetic waves to accelerate particles. A stream of charged particles is fed into the centre of the chamber, and voltage alternately attracts and repels the particles, causing them to accelerate

4th February 2016 

On Wednesday 4th February, The Christie invited health correspondent Thomas Moore and the Sky News team to come and film behind the scenes at The Christie for a whole day as part of World Cancer Day 2016.   

Sky News interviewed a variety of our patients, staff, fundraisers and clinicians during the day and were given exclusive filming opportunities.    

View the interview with Professor Nick Slevin on Proton Beam Therapy below:    

Interview with Professor Nick Slevin on Proton Beam Therapy

1st February 2016    

Two tower cranes are positioned on the Proton Beam Therapy site, each reaching a maximum height of 45 metres. This is about half the height of Big Ben and one third the height of Beetham Tower, Manchester’s tallest building.  The cranes will remain on site now until the end of 2016.   

The steel structure of the building is fast emerging.  In total 810 tonnes of steel will be used within the steel frame which is the equivalent of 583 VW Golf cars. The first 200 tonnes of steel, already in place, frames the tower to house the plant equipment that will support patient treatment equipment in other parts of the building.    

25th November 2015   

Concrete is poured to create part of the floor of the main treatment area. The Proton Beam Therapy Centre will be made up of 42,495 tonnes of concrete which is equivalent to 234 Jumbo jets.      

The way in which concrete sets is influenced by weather and temperature and is not predictable, so there will be occasions when we will have to work later than planned on days when concrete is being poured on site. You can find out the dates when this is happening by clicking here.     

23rd September 2015

Professor Nick Slevin hosted a meeting of the Royal College of Radiologists at The Christie, focusing on treatment advances for head and neck cancer and examining possible areas for future progress such as proton beam therapy.    

The Christie will also be hosting the British Sarcoma Group annual meeting in February 2016.  Proton beam therapy will be one of the focuses of interest for 2016. The call for abstracts is now open, click here for more information.   

17th August 2015   

Now the ground has been prepared, construction can begin with ‘piling’ for the Proton Beam Therapy Centre underway and continuing for 9 weeks. Piling is the essential support needed for the building, a technique that will set deep foundations.   

27th July 2015   

The Proton Therapy project celebrated a significant milestone in the programme today by holding its ‘ground breaking’ event on the site.   

The celebration was supported by patients, clinicians, senior NHS staff and contractors who have been instrumental in bringing proton therapy to The Christie in 2018.      

Patients Lucy Thomas and Andrea Seal (pictured) who travelled overseas to receive their proton therapy treatment, helped break the ground.     

24th July 2015    

A big milestone is achieved, as the main supplier contracts are signed. Varian Medical Systems will provide proton therapy equipment to both The Christie and University College London Hospital (UCLH).The Christie’s build partner is Interserve (ICL).   

The ground is being prepared and hoardings marking the site boundary reveal how the new centre will benefit our patients.    

13th July 2015    

Following the General Election and the approval of a Supplementary Final Business Case (SFBC), the Department of Health gives the go ahead for The Christie to sign contracts with our suppliers. The legal team is now working hard to finalise everything. 

11th March 2015 

The Department of Health announces the preferred bidder for the supply of equipment for the proton beam therapy service.   

The Christie and UCLH's preferred equipment supplier is Varian and The Christie's build partner is Interserve Construction Ltd. Both were selected following a rigorous public procurement process.  

27th February 2015   

The Department of Health approves the Final Business Case (FBC), which enables the Trust to appoint a preferred bidder of equipment and prepare contracts with this supplier and the build contractor. After the General Election, the Trust is required to submit a Supplementary Final Business Case, once the equipment and building contracts are finalised.

July 2013   

The Department of Health and HM Treasury approves the Outline Business Case (OBC) to establish a national service for proton therapy in Manchester, as one of two national centres, the other being University College London Hospital (UCLH). A joint equipment procurement process will now be launched. 

13th December 2011  

The Christie welcomes plans unveiled by the Health Secretary to invest up to £150million in procuring a new cutting-edge 'proton beam therapy' radiotherapy cancer service. 

The Christie is selected by the Department of Health as one of three potential providers of the service, alongside University College London Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust and University Hospitals Birmingham NHS Foundation Trust.