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Byron Shire
May 13, 2021

Prostate cancer – from the big “C” to a little ‘c’

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Associate Professor Tom Shakespeare – projects are evaluating new techniques in prostate cancer treatment. Photo supplied.

The big “C” word is becoming the smaller ‘c’ word due to great treatments being delivered by local health workers.

The Northern NSW Local Health District (NNSWLHD) is being recognised on the global stage as a leader in cancer treatment, with world-first programs that improve healthcare for regional patients.

Radiation oncologist with North Coast Cancer Institute Lismore, Associate Professor Tom Shakespeare, is involved in projects evaluating new techniques in prostate cancer treatment, which he showcased at an international conference last week.

A/Prof Shakespeare presented two papers at the American Society for Radiation Oncology’s (ASTRO) annual meeting in Chicago, which attracts around 10,000 delegates from around the world.

Shared decision-making

Shakespeare said the first paper was an evaluation of patient involvement in choosing their cancer treatment through shared decision-making with their oncologist.

Patients involved in the research were provided with a decision aid to help them choose between two radiation therapy options in the cure of prostate cancer.

‘This high degree of patient involvement is a world first, putting the patient at the centre of their care planning alongside their treating specialist,’ said Shakespeare.

The outcomes of world-leading research

The second presentation discussed the outcomes of world-leading research involving men from the North and Mid North Coast areas using PET scans to help target radiation therapy to the prostate and lymph nodes.

‘In the past, men with prostate cancer which has spread to the lymph glands were thought to be incurable, but modern advances in radiation therapy and PET scan imaging mean we can offer curative radiation.

‘The early results show that after two years, 100 per cent of patients had their prostate cancer controlled, with minimal side-effects.

‘This brings new hope for men whose prostate cancer has escaped from the prostate, that there is a potential for a cure.’

NNSWLHD has a strong focus on clinical trials and quality assurance programs, building on its research and innovation capacity since NCCI first opened in 2010.

‘Everything that we do in research is about helping the people in our community by providing world-class locally-based services’.

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