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Revolutionary new treatment for advanced prostate cancer to be trialed

A new “nuclear” medicine treatment of advanced prostate cancer is to be trialed by the ANZUP Cancer Trials Group Limited and the Prostate Cancer Foundation of Australia (PCFA). The pilot study will be led by associate professor Michael Hofman from the Peter MacCullum Cancer Centre in Melbourne.

According to the PCFA, even though there have been significant recent advances in the treatment of prostate cancer, castrate resistant metastatic disease remains incurable, resulting in it remaining a leading cause of cancer related mortality amongst men in Australia. The new approach, which is subject to this trial, has been developed to deliver cancer-killing radioactive atoms directly and specifically to areas of advanced prostate cancer.

“What sets this approach apart is that it identifies cancers that have the target, delivers the radiation directly to those cells, and gives us a way to visualise what happens as a result,” Hofman said. “This allows for a truly individual, targeted therapy.”

Hofman went on to outline the two main constituent parts of this treatment.

“Firstly, a PET scan is used to map the cancer. This is done by injecting a radioactive molecule called gallium-68 attached to a small molecule that rapidly localises to prostate specific membrane antigen (PSMA) on the surface of prostate cancer cells in the body. The result is the cancer cells light up, showing exactly where the disease is and enabling identification of patients that may benefit from this new therapy.

“Next, a different radioactive molecule, Lutetium 177, attached to the same type of small molecule is injected into the patient and travels through the body, directly targeting cancer cells that have high levels of PSMA.”

Ian Davis, chair of ANZUP, said this was a delightful partnership.

“We’re delighted to partner with PCFA to launch this important study that could result in a fundamental change in the way we approach the treatment of advanced prostate cancer,” he said. “Clinical trials like this are the only way we can find out how well new treatments work, whether they are safe, and whether they should become the new gold standard for treatment in the future.

“The men who will participate in this study are paving the way to improve outcomes for all who come after them.”

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  1. This procedure/therapy has been done for 18 months in Perth by Dr Nat Lenzo and is commencing at Wesley Hospital in August. It has been in use in Europe for five years with multiple papers written on its effectiveness.