Kilovoltage Intrafraction Monitoring cancer treatment
Cancer researchers in Australia have developed new technology that could slash the treatment time for thousands of men with prostate cancer.Dubbed Kilovoltage Intrafraction Monitoring(KIM), the software can pinpoint the exact position of the cancer in real time, making the radiotherapy safer and more effective.The TROG 15.01 SPARK trial is managed by The Trans Tasman Radiation Oncology Group (TROG)Cancer Research which assesses the position of the cancer even if the cancer moves even by a few millimetres.According to Jarad Martin, a radiation oncologist at Newcastle’s Calvary Mater Hospital in New South Wales and co-chair of the trial, the much affordable software could be installed in any radiotherapy unit. Martin said the problem in the past had always been that while a patient was undergoing radiotherapy, the prostate could move.”As soon as we’ve pushed the ‘go’ button on the radiotherapy, we’re kind of flying blind a little bit,” he said.”And if the prostate moves during treatment, then it can actually get outside of the area we’re focusing on, which can be the worst of both worlds in that not only are we missing the tumour, but we’re starting to hit healthy tissues and potentially increase the chance of causing side effects.”According to research in Australia, prostate cancer is the most common cancer diagnosed and is the third most common cause of cancer death. Prostate Cancer is most common in older men.
Symptoms of prostate cancer are mostly nonspecific and frequent urination especially at night. Pain on urination, blood on urine, and a weak stream of discharge are also symptoms of prostate cancer. Martin said by pinpointing the exact location of the cancer, the radiotherapy would be safer and more effective.”Up until now we’ve had to have quite large safety margins, to ensure that as the prostate drifts around, we’d still be hitting it with the radiotherapy beam,” he said.”But now that we’ve got this promising new technology, we’re actually able to keep our eyes on the prostate all the way through the treatment.”And if it moves more than a couple of millimetres in any direction, then we’re able to see that happening, push the pause button, and line things up so that we’re bang on the money again before we continue on with the treatment.”So by being much more accurate, it means that we’re actually also able to potentially increase the intensity of the radiotherapy a little as well.” Martin hopes the new technology would be able to be used soon to treat hundreds of thousands of patients worldwide.”And our hope as well is that it’ll eventually evolve to be used for more than just prostate cancer, because it really does potentially open the door to be able to deliver more accurate treatments to a wide range of cancers,” he said.
Professor Paul Keall, the trial co chair said the innovative technology has the potential to be transformative for men with early stage prostate cancer, significantly decreasing their treatment time.“The KIM technology will enable safer radiation dose intensification, and therefore the SPARK trial cancer patients will be treated in five treatment sessions over two weeks,” he said.“Potential patients are enthusiastic about the increased accuracy and the shorter treatment time. There are economic benefits to shorter treatment times also, reducing hospital workload and costs as well as the time off work and transport for patients and their families.“KIM is a technology being developed and pioneered in Australia, and is applicable to other cancers affected by motion, including lung, liver, kidney and pancreas cancers. This Australian technology could become the global standard of care for many cancer patients.”SPARK will recruit 48 patients around Australia and researchers expect the efficacy of the KIM technology to be known in late 2017. The trial is coordinated by TROG Cancer Research, co-funded Cancer Australia and the Prostate Cancer Foundation of Australia and sponsored by the University of Sydney.Prostate cancer normally spreads to the bones and induces great amount of pain which includes unexplained weight loss and fatigue. At the moment there are no known causes but the disease is commonly associated with prolonged high fat diets.