05:31am Wednesday 16 October 2019

Australian firsts in prostate cancer fight unveiled

In a major coup for prostate cancer treatment and research in the Australia, a brand new CellSearch circulating tumour cell (CTC) test system has arrived in Brisbane.

CTCs are tumour cells that have detached from solid tumours and entered the patient’s blood, possibly leading to the spread of the cancer to other parts of their body.

Queensland University of Technology’s (QUT) Chair of Prostate Cancer Professor Nelson said the award-winning equipment will be a national resource for monitoring treatment response and predicting survival in patients with metastatic prostate, breast and colorectal cancer.

“Scientifically, the CellSearch facility will enable us to capture prostate cancer cells and investigate them at a molecular level,” said Professor Nelson, who is also Executive Director of the Australian Prostate Cancer Research Centre – Queensland (APCRC – Q).

“It will be used in clinical trials of prostate cancer treatments and to monitor the treatment of cancer in individual patients from around Australia.”

The QUT-hosted APCRC – Q is based at the Princess Alexandra Hospital (PAH), and will operate the CellSearch facility in conjunction with the hospital, providing further support for the multidisciplinary team clinic.

PAH Director of Urology Dr Simon Wood said the arrival of this new technology would stimulate a whole range of new research now that circulating tumour cell numbers could be measured.

“This will be particularly relevant for men receiving novel treatment through our multidisciplinary clinic for advanced prostate cancer and clinical trials unit,” he said.

“We also hope it will help decision making in some men with higher risk prostate cancer.”

The multidisciplinary team brings together for the first time in Australia a diverse array of specialists who will work collaboratively at Brisbane’s Princess Alexandra Hospital.

The clinic is expected to greatly advance the management of prostate cancer in Queensland men – a disease that affects one in nine men nationally and kills over 3000 Australian men every year.

Prostate cancer is the most common cancer in Australian men and is the second most common cause of cancer deaths in men.

Professor Nelson said the clinic was important because of the improvements in new drugs and therapies to treat prostate cancer, which could shift it to a chronic disease and delay the lethal outcome.

However, she said they came at a price with side effects including insulin insensitivity, muscle weakness and fatigue, bone loss and skeletal fractures, cognitive impairment, metabolic syndrome (a combination of medical disorders that increases the risk of developing cardiovascular disease and diabetes) and a general loss of sense of well-being.

“The multidisciplinary team will provide a more holistic and efficient approach to the medical complexities of advanced prostate cancer care,” Professor Nelson said.

“As well, the clinic will use advanced tele-health services to facilitate patient assessment and improved follow-up treatment while allowing patients to return home to regions around Queensland where they can receive expert attention from their primary and tertiary caregivers.”

The equipment and clinic announcements were made today by Queensland health minister and Deputy Premier Paul Lucas at a joint prostate cancer conference and symposium on the Gold Coast.

The 2010 Prostate Cancer Foundation of Australia’s National Conference and the Australian-Canadian Prostate Cancer Research Alliance Symposium began today and will run until Sunday. The APCRC – Q is the Australian hub for the Queensland Government-funded Alliance.

The events will bring together Australia’s largest gathering of men battling prostate cancer and their families, support groups, researchers, nurses, doctors, community organisations, allied health professionals and government representatives.

They will cover topics including prostate cancer treatments, the latest diagnostic tests, nutrition and consumer activism and advocacy.

Media contact: Rachael Wilson, QUT media officer, 07 3138 1150 rachael.wilson@qut.edu.au

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