Worlds First Trial of New Treatment for Prostate Cancer


A trial of a new combination of cancer therapies for patients with advanced prostate cancer has just started in the Cancer Centre. The trial, which is a world-first hopes to prolong life for prostate cancer patients.

Prostate Cancer in Northern Ireland

In 2014 there were over 1,100 newly diagnosed cases of prostate cancer in Northern Ireland. Almost 8,500 men here are living with a diagnosis of prostate cancer and just under 250 men each year die as a result of the illness.

Men with advanced prostate cancer are normally treated with hormone therapy, which aims to shrink a tumour by limiting the amount of testosterone reaching the cancer cells.

World First

The ADRRAD trial combines two forms of radiotherapy - the first is an advanced type of radiation therapy which manipulates radiation beams to conform to the shape of the tumour delivering precise radiation doses and minimising the dose to surrounding normal tissue. This radiation is delivered externally using a linear accelerator.

The second is Radium 223 - a ‘bone seeker’ drug which is a type of internal radiotherapy. It is given intravenously and delivers a high dose of radiation close to tumour deposits in the bones – killing cancer cells, while minimising damage to healthy cells.

If successful, this combined treatment has the potential to completely change the way in which the disease is treated and potentially extend the life expectancy of patients with the advanced stages of the disease.

Professor Joe O’Sullivan from Queen’s University is the Clinical Director of Oncology in Belfast Trust and is leading the trial. He said, ‘This is the first trial of its kind anywhere in the world, and we hope that combining two forms of radiotherapy will be more effective than existing treatment, and extend the life expectancy of men whose treatment options are otherwise limited.

‘Belfast Trust, Queen’s University and indeed Northern Ireland are right at the forefront of the global efforts to develop more effective treatments for all types of cancer. The ADRRAD trial is an excellent example of the potentially life changing and life saving impact of this work.’

The ADRRAD trial is supported by Friends of the Cancer Centre