New focal point for prostate cancer research in the Hunter
Researchers and support services in Newcastle are joining forces to address the startling prostate cancer death rate in the Hunter region.
The Hunter Prostate Cancer Centre will co-locate the Hunter Prostate Cancer Alliance and the Trans-Tasman Radiation Oncology Group's (TROG) prostate cancer trials team led by Professor Jim Denham*, a researcher at the University of Newcastle and Calvary Mater Newcastle.
Professor Denham said the Centre, opening today at Waratah, would focus on research, treatment, and public awareness of the disease.
"The death rate from prostate cancer in the Hunter region is amongst the worst in New South Wales and 25 per cent higher than in metropolitan Sydney," he said.
"Thanks to a local awareness campaign in 2007, Prostate-Specific Antigen (PSA) testing rates in the Hunter have doubled and a large number of men have been diagnosed much earlier than they would have been without the testing.
"This Centre will provide the physical space we need to expand our research programs and counselling support services. For example, this year we will join an international trial of a new drug to treat prostate cancer, in a program being led by Professor Anthony D'Amico at Harvard Medical School in Boston, USA.
"Men in the Hunter are also directly benefiting from the results of the successful 96.01 trials that have been running since 1996."
The 96.01 trial has shown that a hormone therapy given to men with locally-advanced prostate cancer a few months before radiotherapy can help stop the cancer returning after treatment and reduce cancer deaths.
The successor trial to 96.01, the 'Randomised Androgen Deprivation And Radiotherapy' (RADAR) trial, is also aimed at locally- advanced prostate cancer. It will determine the cancer-beating potential of a combination of hormone therapy both before and after radiotherapy. Results are expected in 2012.
The Calvary Mater Newcastle is one of 23 hospitals throughout Australia and New Zealand participating in the 96.01 and RADAR trials.
The Hunter Prostate Cancer Alliance was formed by local supporters of Professor Denham's research who raised funds to purchase and renovate the site for the Centre.
Interview and picture opportunity: The Hunter Prostate Cancer Centre will be officially opened at 3.30pm this afternoon and is located at 22 Turton Road, Waratah (the old Waratah Post Office.) Prostate cancer researchers, counsellors and survivors are available for interviews. Contact Professor Jim Denham on 0439 601 461.
* Professor Denham is head of the Trans-Tasman Radiation Oncology Group's (TROG) prostate cancer trials, in collaboration with the Hunter Medical Research Institute's Cancer Research Program. HMRI is a partnership between the University of Newcastle, Hunter New England Health and the community.
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