Icon Group study provides hope for prostate cancer patients with world’s largest trial

Icon Writers / 21 Jul, 2019

Icon Group study provides hope for prostate cancer patients

Icon Group has today announced new Australian data that shows high-tech precision radiation can prevent treatment escalation for more than two years (27.1 months), improving the prognosis of advanced prostate cancer patients with early metastatic cancer (cancer that has spread to other parts of the body).

The Australian study, published in the International Journal of Cancer is the world’s largest prostate cancer trial of its kind, treating men with up to five prostate cancer metastases. It was led by experts from Icon Cancer Centre in Melbourne, funded by Epworth Medical Foundation and EJ Whitten Foundation.

Nearly 200 men from across Australia were given stereotactic body radiation therapy (SBRT), an advanced form of therapy capable of providing radiation high doses, to small areas of cancer while sparing healthy tissue. Each treatment lasts less than 10 minutes and is delivered over a two week period. The results show 50 per cent of patients were free from treatment escalation for two years, and importantly, no patient experienced any severe long term side effects.

“This new Australian data gives hope to men living with metastatic prostate cancer. Unfortunately, this is an incurable condition with life expectancy of about five years. It is therefore extremely promising to see precision radiation therapy delay treatment progression for more than two years.

“About 25 per cent of patients in the study had less cancer burden three years after SBRT than they did before they received it, despite having no other treatment. A very small percentage of men have a zero PSA reading more than three years after the SBRT. They potentially have been cured, although we need longer follow up to confirm this finding” said Dr Pat Bowden, Icon Cancer Centre Principal Investigator and Radiation Oncologist.

Dr Pat Bowden (right), Icon Cancer Centre Principal Investigator and Radiation Oncologist, with patient Bill Gason

In Australia, 18,000 men receive a prostate cancer diagnosis each year and 15,000 men are currently living with metastatic prostate cancer. Standard treatment options include hormone therapy and chemotherapy which are often associated with negative side effects. One of the main advantages of SBRT is in delaying these more toxic treatments, thereby improving the quality of life for men in this difficult situation.

“These results demonstrate innovation such as SBRT in cancer care can add enormously to the cancer journey, improving quality and duration of life. Icon is proud to invest in research in our cancer centres that contribute to advancements across Australia, and provide the best care possible, to as many people as possible.” said Dr Bowden.

Epworth Medical Foundation Executive Director Scott Bulger said, “The findings from this research will improve the quality of life of men across the country, a benefit to patients now and into the future.”

“We’re able to provide patients at Epworth with the best possible care because of our investments in ground-breaking research that continue to advance medical care.”

EJ Whitten Foundation CEO Nick Holland said “The E.J. Whitten Cancer Research Centre at Epworth Foundation is seeking better ways to diagnose, treat, prevent and potentially cure prostate cancer.”

“We are proud to support a study of this significance, and excited by the fact that the findings will set a new standard of care and help save men’s lives.”

SBRT targets small tumours with millimetre accuracy through a combination of customised equipment, quality imaging and the latest software. The latest imaging technology, PSMA-PET, was also used on 75 per cent of the study participants to support the early detection of prostate cancer lesions and lower the risk of untreated metastatic lesions.

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