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Prostate cancer trial could reduce hospital visits by 75%

18 July 2016

Health Care

Prostate cancer patients at Southend University Hospital are set to benefit from more effective and efficient treatment courtesy of a new trial due to start in August.

Its prostate cancer patients currently receive 38 individual deliveries of a dose called 'fractions' over seven to eight weeks. That's about to reduce 20, but thanks to a new trial, called the PACE trial, that could reduce even further to just five doses.

This will see prostate cancer treated as effectively in fewer treatment deliveries, meaning a huge benefit to patients and staff, reducing hospital visits by at least 75%.

James Green, Head of Radiotherapy at Southend, said: "Thirty-eight doses is a lot and it has already been shown 20 fractions can give patients similar side effect with no worse side effects. The encouragement is that we can now deliver it in a shorter period of time, which of course we will be adopting.

"However, we are about to embark on a trial that will reduce that even further, to just five."

 One of the reasons that it can be achieved over a shorter period of time and dose is that the type of tumour cells found in the prostate are the type that tend to benefit from fewer, bigger doses of radiation.

For certain early stage patients, the department will use a technique called Stereotactic Ablative Body Radiotherapy (SABR) to allow them to achieve this reduction to just five visits.

James said: "Prostate cancer is being detected in younger and active men, and men who have jobs. It isn't just the elderly. Having 38 visits is socially difficult to deal with, so for five fractions it is much more acceptable for patients, both in time and psychologically."

Each of the five fractions will be longer and more complicated to give, but as well as being a huge benefit to patients. The hospital hopes to begin the trial at the end of August and the treatment will be delivered by two Versa HD linac machines.

James added: "As a state-of the-art department we pride ourselves in being able to offer patients the full range of treatments, making sure local patients can access the latest treatment techniques."