Setting the PACE with prostate cancer research

Posted on in Hospitals, Research, The trust

The James Cook University Hospital is very proud to be the first hospital in the North of England to recruit suitable patients to the Prostate Advances in Comparative Evidence (PACE) trial for prostate cancer.

 Dr Hans van der Voet

This trial is looking at a type of radiotherapy called stereotactic radiotherapy and comparing it with either conventional radiotherapy or surgery. The trial is for men who have been diagnosed with prostate cancer that has not grown outside the prostate gland.

If prostate cancer is diagnosed before it has spread outside the prostate gland, there are several treatment options including surgery to remove the prostate gland, external radiotherapy and internal radiotherapy. All of the treatments listed above work well, but doctors don’t know if one is better than the other or which one has the fewest side effects.

In this trial, some men will have keyhole surgery to remove the prostate gland (laparoscopic prostatectomy), some will have conventional radiotherapy and some will have stereotactic radiotherapy delivered by a linear accelerator. Stereotactic radiotherapy is given over a much shorter period of time than conventional radiotherapy.

The trial is led by researchers at The Royal Marsden NHS Foundation Trust and The Institute of Cancer Research, London. It is endorsed by Cancer Research UK and funded by Accuray.

The aim of the study is to compare the different treatments to find out:

  • how long men live after each treatment without any sign of their cancer coming back
  • more about the side effects of each treatment

One patient who took up the opportunity to be part of the trial was 69 year-old Martin Jewkes of Croft near Darlington.

Martin said: “During a consultation with Dr Chadwick, a consultant oncologist at The James Cook University HospitaI, I was offered either an operation or radiotherapy and we discussed both avenues of treatment.  He told me that if I chose to have radiotherapy there may be a possibility that I might be offered to be put on the PACE trial which involved only five sessions of radiotherapy over a much shorter period of time than the usual course of 37 sessions.

“After doing some research about the trial myself, I chose to have radiotherapy and was referred to Dr Hans Van Der Voet.  He told me there is a criteria that you have to meet to be placed on the trial and once he checked with The Royal Marsden and The Institute for Cancer Research who are running the trial, I was accepted and took the shorter course of radiotherapy.

“I’d encourage others who meet the criteria to go on the trial. Although it sounds strange, I had a good experience and hope that whatever the results conclude I’ve played a part in making it easier to treat prostate cancer. The staff were fantastic and extremely supportive throughout the process.”

Dr Hans van der Voet, pictured above, added: “The trial was opened at The Royal Marsden NHS Foundation Trust in 2012 and here in November 2015. The James Cook University Hospital became the first hospital in the North of England to recruit suitable patients to the PACE study.

“Our first two patients were treated in December last year and this is a very exciting development that offers patients the opportunity to receive very sophisticated radiotherapy that may revolutionise the way radiotherapy is given if the trial is successful.”