Prostate cancer is the second most common cause of cancer-related deaths among men in Australia, with more than 3000 patients dying each year.
Now, dozens of patients are being recruited at seven hospitals across Australia for a new trial.
It involves the use of sophisticated scans to identify a key marker before infusing a radioactive drug called lutetium which targets the markers on the surface of prostate cancer cells and destroys them.
“We know that the theranostic treatment is effective in its own right in that 66 per cent of patients will have a response,” Associate Professor Shahneen Sandhu at Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre said.
“These targeted therapies are really the way of the future.”
The trial treatment is being enhanced by adding two immunotherapy drugs that have helped revolutionise the fight against melanoma and lung cancer.
It’s hoped the drugs, Ipilimumab and Nivolumab, will make the trial more effective and durable.
“It’s the first time this approach has been taken,” Sandhu said.
“We’re trying to rev up those immune cells to get them to do the heavy lifting and mop up the cancer.”
John Boland, 72, has been living with prostate cancer for seven years and has endured many rounds of radiation and hormone therapy with no success.
Now, he’s undergone the new trial which has nearly cured him.
“After the second lutetium treatment, my PSA [prostate-specific antigen] was almost zero,” Boland said.
“The side effects are negligible, I felt a teeny bit tired, other than that it was easy.”
The Cancer Foundation of Australia is funding the new trial.
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“We’re contributing $1.6 million to fund this evolution trial and the trial will recruit 100 men around the country at different sites,” Professor Jeff Dunn at the Cancer Foundation of Australia said.