Targeted Success

A collaboration between the Department of Radiation Oncology at Calvary Mater Newcastle and the Department of Nuclear Medicine at Hunter New England Local Health District has resulted in clinical trial success.

Prof Jarad Martin, Radiation Oncology Senior Staff Specialist, and Dr Natalie Rutherford, Clinical Director of Nuclear Medicine, were part of the team awarded dual winners of the 2021 Australian Clinical Trials Alliance (ACTA) Award.

This event celebrates the vital role trials have in advancing clinical practice and saving or improving patients’ lives every year.

The award-winning clinical trial, known as ProPSMA, provides greater accuracy in identifying prostate cancer. The trial uses a new imaging technique called PSMA PET/CT which can detect small sites of tumour spread that may not be detected with conventional imaging.

During the trial, 300 men with newly diagnosed prostate cancer participated across ten sites, including Calvary Mater Newcastle. Each participant had a whole-body 3D scan using a radioactive substance that tracks prostate cancer, called a Ga68 PSMA PET/CT scan, that produced detailed images of the cancer spread. The trial team found that PSMA PET/CT had an accuracy of 92 per cent compared to 65 per cent accuracy achieved with conventional imaging.

Natalie said,

“The ProPSMA study was a pivotal trial for men in Newcastle, and all of Australia. It shows the true extent of men’s prostate cancer against other imaging that was previously considered gold standard, and deepening our knowledge of the men who do have unrealised metastatic disease at their baseline diagnosis. It was also a very good stepping stone to showing that this little PSMA tracer was not only a great way to track the malignancy, but now, hopefully beyond the ProPSMA trial, will also attack and kill the tumour.”

The findings were published in the peer-reviewed journal, The Lancet, in March 2020. ProPSMA was funded by a clinical trials grant from the Prostate Cancer Foundation of Australia and Movember.

Jarad commented,

“The findings from the ProPSMA trial are already impacting the routine management of local men with newly diagnosed prostate cancer. It was a great collaboration between clinicians and allied health which has helped establish Newcastle at the forefront of this field.”

Prostate cancer is recognised as a silent disease in that there are often no symptoms present during the early stages. Once symptoms do begin to develop, the cancer is often further advanced and may have spread beyond the original tumour site. Imaging accuracy is critical to determining the best treatment plan for men who have received a prostate cancer diagnosis.

The trial was led by Chief Investigator, Prof Michael Hofman, Director of the Prostate Cancer Theranostics and Imaging Centre of Excellence (ProsTIC) at the Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre (as part of the Australasian Radiopharmaceutical Network (ARTnet) and co-badged the ANZUP Cancer Trials Group.