Icon Group have announced the interim results of a first-of-its-kind study, PINPOINT, which shows that the combination of high-tech imaging and tracking techniques could greatly improve quality of life and outcomes for men with early recurrent prostate cancer.
In Australia, 19,000 new cases of prostate cancer are diagnosed each year, making it the second most common cancer diagnosed in men. Many patients have their prostate removed to improve their chances of the cancer not returning , however, 1 in 3 will relapse. These men are faced with the choice of remaining in a ‘watch and wait’ holding pattern or to immediately undergo aggressive treatment involving a combination of radiation therapy and hormonal therapy.
64-year-old Melbourne local John Healy was first diagnosed with prostate cancer in 2016. After monitoring his PSA levels through regular blood tests for eight years, an elevated PSA result sparked the shock discovery.
“I had just lost my wife six months earlier to breast cancer and was raising my 14-year-old son alone. It was devastating to face prostate cancer and the prospect of treatment, but I believed that surgery to remove my prostate would be the end of it,” said Mr Healy.
Following a radical prostatectomy, John went on to receive three-monthly monitoring appointments to identify whether his cancer had returned. He says the experience was terrifying, with the threat of his prostate cancer coming back looming heavily ahead of every appointment.
“It was a really tough time, not knowing what the future holds. Six months after my surgery a scan picked up that my cancer had returned in the prostate bed. I felt like I was back to square one. I’m so thankful that I was able to receive this highly targeted, non-invasive treatment through the PINPOINT study. The thought of dealing with the difficult side effects of other aggressive treatment options while already dealing with issues from my surgery, to me there was no other alternative to consider.”
“This treatment has helped me get my life back. I have enormous gratitude that I can say, five years later, that my cancer is in remission.”
The Phase II PINPOINT study is the first to show that patients can choose an upfront treatment which can lead to cancer control but without the side effects of hormone therapy and more aggressive radiation therapy treatments. The study showed that by targeting radiation at the prostate bed alone – the region where the prostate was removed from – quality of life is preserved for at least three years following treatment.
“When a patient has locally recurring prostate cancer, the only chance of potential cure is radiation therapy. However, the decision to proceed with advanced care is weighed against the long-term side effects such as incontinence, scar tissue, toxicity in the bladder and bowel. This is the first trial to explore the toxicity of a more targeted approach and to help specialists make more informed decisions,” said Dr Patrick Bowden, Radiation Oncologist at Icon Cancer Centre and Principal Investigator on the PINPOINT trial.
The PINPOINT trial used the latest cancer imaging technology (68Ga-PSMA-PET) to identify patients who would benefit most from treatment limited to the prostate bed. These patients were then implanted with tiny electronic transponders to allow for real-time tracking of the prostate bed, ensuring accurate and focused radiation delivery which avoided nearby organs such as the bladder and the bowel.1
“It is reassuring to know that with these new imaging and radiation techniques, we can now accurately identify patients with low risk of metastases, avoiding overtreatment and maintaining a good quality of life. We hope that this research will improve access to safer radiation therapy for thousands of patients,” said Dr Bowden.
With 30 centres across Australia and several in development, Icon Cancer Centre is proud to offer greater access to advanced radiation therapy. Patients do not require private health insurance to receive radiation therapy treatments, with up to 80-90% of costs reimbursed by Medicare.