Targeted prostate cancer treatment now well positioned

Posted 13 Apr 2015.

Monday, 13 April 2015

A project to develop a more accurate treatment method for prostate cancer has been awarded a $35,000 Suzanne Cavanagh Early Career Investigator Grant as part of Cancer Council Western Australia’s annual research grants.

Dr Pejman Rowshan Farzad from the University of Western Australia heads up a team of researchers who are developing a new method of detecting the tumour position during radiation delivery using real-time digital imaging, and automatically moving the patient so that the tumour is not missed.
Prostate cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer in Australia and radiation therapy is a commonly-used method of treating it.

But Dr Rowshan Farzad said while the goal of radiation therapy is to destroy or damage cancer cells with high energy X-rays with little or no damage to surrounding normal tissues, sometimes that can’t be achieved.

“Radiation has to be delivered as accurately as possible to the cancer cells to achieve the best outcome, however the internal motion of the prostate as a result of breathing and other involuntary actions of the body introduces inaccuracies in the treatment procedure.

“This can lead to irreversible damage to healthy critical organs such as the bladder and rectum,” he said.

“What we are doing in this project is adapting currently-available treatment devices which are called linear accelerators to enable radiation treatment to be more accurate. 

“Our plan is to add a motorized automatic panel to the treatment couch to compensate for the movements of the prostate by using on-line imaging data from the imagers attached to the linear accelerator. As a result, the tumour position remains steady while the patient is breathing.    

“The results of this work will not only highly beneficial to patients with prostate cancer, but also potentially for treating patients with other cancers,” he said.

Dr Rowshan Farzad said the Cancer Council WA funding will make a huge difference to the progress of the project.

“Funding support from CCWA will help us in the fabrication of the required system for this project.

“By implementing this project in the clinic we expect fewer side effects and lower risk to cancer patients undergoing radiotherapy treatment,” he said.

The grant is part of $3.8 million in research funding announced by Cancer Council WA at a recent lunch sponsored by the Parmelia Hilton in Perth. 

Cancer Council WA, a community funded organisation, is one of the largest funders of cancer research in the State through a peer reviewed grants scheme.

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