Innovative approach to prostate radiotherapy clinical trials begin


Belfast Trust has begun clinical trials on a groundbreaking new approach to delivering radiotherapy to men with prostate cancer.

The SpaceOAR system is being used for the first time on a UK NHS patient at the Northern Ireland Cancer Centre, Belfast City Hospital as part of a clinical trial.

The SPORT study is being led by Dr Suneil Jain (pictured), Friends of the Cancer Centre’s Honorary Consultant in Clinical Oncology, and Senior Lecturer at Queens University Belfast.

Standard radiotherapy techniques are well established in the treatment of prostate cancer. But now Stereotactic Ablative Body Radiotherapy (SABR) means prostate cancer can be treated with higher doses of radiation delivered with fewer treatments than usual.

Fiducial markers (small metal seeds that are implanted directly into the prostate) are being used as part of the study to allow radiotherapy to be targeted very precisely. This is necessary because the prostate is an organ that moves every day.

The SpaceOAR system can potentially decrease the side effects typically experienced by men receiving radiotherapy.

It works by placing a small amount of gel between the prostate and rectum – a ‘prostate spacer’ – to increase the distance between them. This reduces the radiation dose received by the rectum during treatment.

The SpaceOAR System is composed of biodegradable material and is completely absorbed by the patient’s body over time.

Studies show it has been well tolerated and improves the quality of life for men receiving radiotherapy to the prostate.

The SPORT study is being supported by Friends of the Cancer Centre through the funding of Dr Jain and a number of vital research radiographer posts.