World first study: North Coast patients cancer-free thanks to new treatment

World first study: North Coast patients cancer-free thanks to new treatment

A team led by local cancer experts has published a world-first evaluation of a revolutionary radiation therapy treatment that leaves patients cancer-free after two years.

Associate Professor Tom Shakespeare, a radiation oncologist working in Northern NSW and Mid North Coast Local Health Districts, led the evaluation which looked at the effectiveness of a new prostate cancer treatment using a new scan to detect tiny deposits of cancer in patients’ lymph nodes.

“In the past, men with prostate cancer which had spread to lymph glands were thought to be incurable, but modern advances in radiation therapy and PET scan imaging mean we can now offer targeted, curative radiation therapy,” A/Prof Shakespeare said.

“For the first time, men can be treated with the aim of totally eradicating the prostate cancer within both lymph nodes and the prostate.”

Providing patients with best-practice cancer care in line with new international treatment guidelines, the team have published their findings on the effectiveness of these new treatments in the European journal, Radiotherapy and Oncology.

“Nobody has ever published how successful this new PET-guided radiation therapy is, until now,” A/Prof Shakespeare said.

The evaluation followed the first 46 patients from the Lismore, Port Macquarie and Coffs Harbour areas treated using this new technique, and found that two years following radiation therapy, all patients were cancer-free.

“Even though these are early results, the findings are remarkable considering that previously these men would not even have been offered curative treatment.”

“The PET-guided radiation therapy was also very well tolerated, with few significant side effects, and patients have been very happy with their outcomes.”

This PET-guided radiation therapy is now offered to all men with lymph node positive prostate cancer referred to the North Coast Cancer Institute in Lismore and the Mid North Coast Cancer Institute in Coffs Harbour and Port Macquarie. Over 100 men have now been treated using this revolutionary technique.

The 2019-20 budget for Northern NSW Local Health District is over $875 million, this is an increase of over $37 million on the 2018-19 budget.


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