PITTSBURGH – An innovative course of prostate cancer radiotherapy that pares weeks from treatment time, allowing patients to quickly resume their normal routines, is now being tested in a clinical trial by physicians at Allegheny General Hospital (AGH).
Participants will undergo five days of treatment with high dose per fraction IG-IMRT (Image Guided- Intensity Modulated Radiation Therapy) as opposed to the standard 25 days of IG-IMRT. As with the 25-day therapy, IMRT will be followed two to four weeks later with implantation of radioactive Palladium seeds using a well-established outpatient minimally invasive technique pioneered at AGH.
“With any cancer treatment our goal is to cause the least disruption to patients’ lives without compromising the effectiveness of treatment or causing intolerable side effects,” said AGH Radiation Oncologist and lead investigator Russell Fuhrer, MD.
“The current five-week schedule is inconvenient, time-consuming, expensive, and for some patients logistically prohibitive,” Dr. Fuhrer added. “We have seen excellent outcomes with the current protocol and believe that advances in imaging and IMRT technology will allow us to deliver higher doses in a shorter period of time without damaging surrounding tissues.”
Intensity-modulated radiation therapy utilizes sophisticated computer technology to map the precise size and shape of the target organ (prostate) and surrounding tissues (bladder, rectum) and then allows daily imaging of the target organ to insure accurate delivery of the radiotherapy.
AGH is one of the most expert hospitals in the country in the use of IMRT. AGH and West Penn Hospital, both part of the West Penn Allegheny Health System Radiation Oncology Network, were first in the region to develop IMRT programs and to improve the accuracy of IMRT with image guidance. In addition, several programs developed at AGH shorten the course of radiation treatments that have traditionally taken more than 8 weeks to 1-3 weeks.
The Network, which comprises 11 radiation oncology clinics in western Pennsylvania and eastern Ohio, uses IMRT for all types of cancer whenever there is an advantage in improving radiation dose delivery to cancerous tissues and avoidance of uninvolved tissues. This includes treatment of cancer of the brain, head and neck, eye and orbit, lung, colorectal and other gastrointestinal tract malignancies (esophagus, liver, pancreas, bile ducts), breast, prostate, bladder, gynecologic (female reproductive organs), spine, skin, soft tissue, bone and blood/bone marrow/lymph nodes.
The phase 2 trial is open to 50 patients who will be followed for 10 years in order to determine the treatment’s short and long-term side effects and cure rates. Aside from the duration of IMRT therapy, patients’ treatment will be the same as any patient not in the research study.
The trial will be open to patients age 18 or older with newly diagnosed intermediate and high-risk prostate cancer with a PSA (prostate specific antigen) of less than 20. Eligible patients must not have had previous chemotherapy or pelvic radiation, or distant metastases.
For more information about the trial, contact the West Penn Allegheny Health System Radiation Oncology Network at 412.359.3400.