Researchers taking aim at prostate cancer

Jun 12 2015


HMRI researchers based at the Calvary Mater Newcastle have developed a new treatment option for men with prostate cancer, using advanced stereotactic radiotherapy that delivers high doses of radiation without the need for surgery.

The clinical trial is called PROMETHEUS, with patients being treated on Calvary Mater Newcastle’s new TrueBeam machine.

The equivalent of two weeks of radiotherapy can be delivered in just 90 seconds. The standard treatment before this new option was the use of high dose rate brachytherapy prior to a course of external beam radiotherapy. This approach requires a surgical procedure to insert rods directly into the prostate, requiring a trip to Sydney, an anaesthetic plus recovery time.

Associate Professor Jarad Martin, a radiation oncologist at Calvary Mater Newcastle, is leading the PROMETHEUS trial in Newcastle and hopes the early initial successes translate into better long-term outcomes.

“Men on this study in Newcastle are accessing leading edge technologies that have been brought together to minimise risks and maximise the chance of curing the disease. Final results are still some years off but the early data is very encouraging, with several other hospitals around Australia now wishing to join this study,” Associate Professor Martin said.

Treatment accuracy is a key part of these treatments according to senior radiation therapist Lee Wilton: “We are excited to be leading the way in Newcastle in the use of these advanced technologies for men with prostate cancer. By using novel real-time imaging of the prostate during treatment, we can be confident that the radiotherapy is being delivered exactly where we need it.”

Physicist Professor Peter Greer, from the University of Newcastle, describes the study as a good opportunity to assess new methods of accurate radiotherapy treatment delivery.

“The men on the PROMETHEUS study benefit from several cutting edge technologies. Some were developed elsewhere but Calvary Mater Newcastle is the first outside centre to use them. Others were developed here in Newcastle and are already generating a huge amount of interest from other hospitals,” he said.

A patient currently completing his treatment on the PROMETHEUS trial commented: “It was fantastic to have the opportunity to take part in this important cancer research. I’ve had no side effects going through the treatment, and have every confidence of getting the right result which is to be cancer free.”

* Associate Professor Jarad Martin and Professor Peter Greer research in conjunction with HMRI’s Cancer Program. HMRI is a partnership between the University of Newcastle, Hunter New England Health and the Community.