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"Radical radiotherapy" cuts required treatments from 37 to 5

Published on 14/08/18 at 09:36am

Researchers at Queen’s University Belfast have been trialling a new form of “radical radiotherapy” which can be delivered in just five sessions, far less than the 37 visits required for a traditional course of the treatment.

Stereotactic Ablative Body Radiotherapy (SABR) works by delivering high doses of radiation per treatment, and the University’s Study Evaluating Stereotactic Prostate Radiotherapy in High-Risk Localised Prostate Cancer, or SPORT trial, is the first in the UK to use the system.

“One of the complications from using radiotherapy is the potential damage that can be inflicted on neighbouring tissues,” explained Dr Ciaran Fairmichael, Clinical Research Fellow at Queen’s University. Because of this, a minimally invasive hydrogel technology known as SpaceOAR is applied before radiotherapy to minimise unwanted side-effects.

“In this trial, we are evaluating the performance of the SpaceOAR hydrogel which is inserted between the prostate gland and the rectum of the patient,” Dr Fairmichael added. “This creates a greater distance between the prostate tumour and other tissues, which allows us to concentrate the radiotherapy dosage provided to the tumour, and thus reducing the chance of radiation harming other tissues close to the tumour such as the bowel.”

SpaceOAR hydrogel is the key ingredient which allows for the delivery of much higher doses of radiation, which allows the treatment to be completed with significantly less hospital visits. Preliminary findings of the University’s ongoing trial have been published in the British Journal of Radiology.

Matt Fellows

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