New treatment cuts radiation therapy visits for men with prostate cancer

Wednesday, 23rd March, 2016

SPARK trial patient Steve McCluskey gets ready for prostate cancer treatment with Kilovoltage Intrafraction Monitoring technology

Australian researchers have started a clinical trial of a new treatment for patients undergoing radiation for prostate cancer which will cut the number of therapy session required from 40 to just five.

The TROG 15.01 SPARK clinical trial uses the Australian-developed Kilovoltage Intrafraction Monitoring ( KIM) technology to improve targeting accuracy. It assesses the position of the cancer in real-time, and enables the treatment team to redirect the radiation beam if the cancer moves even by a few millimetres.

A standard course of radiotherapy for prostate cancer involves treatment five times a week for around eight weeks. Although the side effects are generally mild, the length of the regimen can be difficult for some men to manage.

The trial co-chair, Professor Paul Keall, said: “Potential patients are enthusiastic about the increased accuracy and the shorter treatment time. There are economic benefits to shorter treatment times also, reducing hospital workload and costs as well as the time off work and transport for patients and their families.

“KIM is a technology being developed and pioneered in Australia, and is applicable to other cancers affected by motion, including lung, liver, kidney and pancreas cancers. This Australian technology could become the global standard of care for many cancer patients.”


Jarad Martin and Steve McCluskey

Associate Professor Jarad Martin (left) with Steve McCluskey.

Steve McCluskey is one of the first people in the world to undergo the KIM treatment at Calvary Mater Newcastle. He decided to join the SPARK trial after being recently diagnosed with prostate cancer and said the reduced number of hospital visits will make life a lot easier.

“I am a great believer in new technology and I loved the idea of only having five visits with minimal chances of major side effects. I cannot wait to get the treatment behind me as quickly as possible and get on with my life,” Steve said.

“Radiotherapy is already a safe and effective treatment option for men with prostate cancer. SPARK is another step in us exploring novel ways to make a good treatment even better,” said clinical co-chair Associate Professor Jarad Martin. 

SPARK will recruit 48 patients around Australia and researchers with results of its effectiveness expected in late 2017.

The trial is coordinated by TROG Cancer Research, co-funded by Cancer Australia and the Prostate Cancer Foundation of Australia and sponsored by the University of Sydney.

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