A CANCER survivor from Minehead is starring in a new campaign to highlight the benefits of proton therapy. 

Barry Hodge, 72, was devastated to be told he had prostate cancer just after turning 70.

Doctors told the retired dad-of-one he would need to undergo external photon radiotherapy and hormone therapy in a bid to tackle the disease. 

But faced with a long list of side effects from the treatment including incontinence and bowel problems, Mr Hodge decided to travel to the Czech Republic to try pioneering cancer therapy instead. 

He is now cancer-free and says the Proton Therapy Center in Prague ‘saved him’. 

One in eight UK men will get prostate cancer at some point in their lives, making it the most common male cancer. Each year around 11,000 men will die from the disease. 

Mr Hodge said: “When they told me I had cancer I was devastated, it was awful. I didn’t know what to do.

“I was concerned about the damage radiotherapy could do to my internal organs.”

A spokesman for the Proton Therapy Center said: “Traditional external beam radiotherapy involves blasting cancerous cells with high-energy X-rays to kill them - but it can also damage healthy cells. 

“Proton beam therapy works by accelerating protons until they reach half the speed of light, and then targeting them at cancer cells.” 

The treatment is not currently available in the UK, meaning Barry felt he had no choice but to look abroad.

He said: “My son Robert started investigating proton therapy. He found that America and certain other countries, including Prague, had great success rates.

“I don’t think the consultant was very happy, he said in his opinion, it was a complete waste of money.”

Mr Hodge proceeded undergoing 21 sessions in Prague over a month with his family by his side. After four weeks his doctors told him the tumour had gone.

Barry covered the cost of his treatment - around £30,000 privately, and said: “This treatment saved my life.”