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News & Trends - MedTech & Diagnostics

Pioneering trio celebrate two decades of radiation therapy advancement in oncology care

Health Industry Hub | July 10, 2023 |

MedTech & Diagnostics News: Clinicians and patients alike are commemorating a two decade milestone, reflecting on the remarkable impact of a targeted and minimally invasive radiation therapy on the lives of men with prostate cancer.

Radiation therapy has a critical role in curing 40% of all cancers and remarkably costs only 6 cents for every dollar invested by the government. However, 20% of cancer patients who should receive radiation therapy in line with best practice care do not receive it, according to a report commissioned by Varian.

The pioneering efforts of radiation oncologist A/Prof Kumar Gogna, Consultant Urologist Dr Glen Wood, and medical physicist Adrian Gibbs at Greenslopes Private Hospital have played a vital role in bringing low-dose-rate (LDR)-brachytherapy* to the forefront of prostate cancer treatment.

A/Prof Gogna stated, “My colleagues and I were the first in Queensland to embrace LDR-brachytherapy two decades ago. This evidence-based, minimally invasive treatment has transformed the lives of eligible prostate cancer patients, and we continue to offer it today. Our commitment to providing world-class care and support to patients with prostate cancer and other urological conditions remains unwavering.”

A/Prof Gogna added “We have had the privilege of mentoring colleagues in Townsville, Singapore, and Wollongong, assisting them in establishing LDR-brachytherapy programs at their respective institutions.”

Recent research conducted a comparative analysis of patients who underwent robot-assisted radical prostatectomy (RARP) and LDR-brachytherapy (LDR-BT) for prostate cancer. The study revealed that at the 24-month mark after treatment, the number of patients experiencing worsened urinary quality of life (QOL) was significantly lower in the LDR-BT group (46%) compared to the RARP group (70%) (p < 0.001). In the urinary incontinence and function domain, this number was higher in the RARP group versus the LDR-BT group. However, the EPIC bowel domain indicated a lower number of patients with worsened QOL in the RARP group compared to the LDR-BT group.

Additionally, in the trial Androgen Suppression Combined with Elective Nodal and Dose Escalated Radiation Therapy (ASCENDE-RT), randomisation of prostate cancer patients to the LDR-BT arm resulted in a 2-fold reduction in biochemical progression compared with the dose-escalated external beam boost (DE-EBRT) group at a median follow-up of 6.5 years (P < .001).

Ken Hurling, a 76-year-old resident of Brisbane, underwent LDR-brachytherapy at Greenslopes Private Hospital 15 years ago. Today, he joins the remarkable 95% of patients who remain disease-free, 15 years post-LDR-brachytherapy treatment.

Reflecting on his journey, Ken shared “When I was diagnosed with prostate cancer, I was leading an active lifestyle, cycling, running, and sailing.”

Dr Wood noted “Prostate cancer is a deeply personal condition, and it is crucial to design a treatment plan that suits each patient’s unique circumstances.”

Whilst 48.4% of all cancer treatment plans include radiation therapy as best practice care, only 39% will receive it. The gap in best practice care is stark for lung and prostate cancer where only 52% and 38% of eligible patients receive radiation therapy, according to the report commissioned by Varian.

Recognising the gap in prostate cancer care in Queensland, Dr Wood and his clinical team embarked on a journey overseas to receive training in LDR-brachytherapy in 2001, an already well-established treatment internationally.

“After training with international experts, it became evident that Queenslanders were being deprived of the opportunity to access a full range of treatment options for prostate cancer. As pioneers in our field, Greenslopes Private Hospital took the initiative to introduce LDR-brachytherapy to our local community,” Dr Wood explained.

“Twenty years ago, the three of us came together with a shared goal. Since then, we have collectively treated numerous prostate cancer patients. Witnessing patients who received treatment years ago still living without disease recurrence is incredibly gratifying, knowing that we played a part in their journey,” Mr Gibbs added.

Ken Hurling’s extraordinary accomplishments extend beyond his successful battle with prostate cancer. His unwavering determination and commitment to serving the local community earned him both the prestigious Order of Australia Medal (OAM) and a nomination for Queensland Australian of the Year in 2015. He cherished the joy of watching his beloved granddaughter grow up while reflecting on his many achievements.

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*LDR-brachytherapy involves the precise placement of radioactive “seeds” into the prostate, allowing targeted radiation to eradicate cancer cells while minimizing harm to surrounding healthy tissue.


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