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10 Nov 2022

Major funding for prostate cancer practice-changing trial

  • VCCC Alliance
  • Austin Health
  • St Vincent's Hospital Melbourne
  • Western Health
  • Royal Melbourne Hospital
  • University of Melbourne
  • Department of Jobs, Precincts and Regions

A study led by VCCC Alliance Research and Education Lead for Genito-urinary Cancers, Associate Professor Niall Corcoran, aims to improve decision-making in prostate cancer treatment by conducting the largest genomically informed, prospective randomised trial in intermediate-risk patients ever undertaken.

The Victorian Department of Jobs, Precincts and Regions’ (DJPR) Victorian Medical Research Acceleration Fund aims to fast-track the translation of research into real-world outcomes and has committed $250,000 towards the study.

Genomic screening to inform decision-making and economic impacts of prostate cancer

The study will be the first to provide definitive answers on whether genomic screening can improve outcomes for people affected by prostate cancer and will also reveal the economic impacts of active surveillance or treatment decision-making over an extended period of time.

In Australia prostate cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer in men and the second most commonly diagnosed cancer overall. The lifetime risk in Australia of being diagnosed with prostate cancer is four-times that of the global risk.

Australia has a global role to play

Prostate cancer has been projected to have the highest increase – 64 per cent – in medical cost projections of any cancer type from 2010-2020. Associate Professor Corcoran said the cost of managing the disease is substantial and expected to increase because of population changes alone.

“We are seeing larger numbers of new diagnoses of prostate cancer but at the same time know that some may be overtreated due to the distinctly variable and unpredictable outcome of the disease.

“Genomic tests will help us to remove some of that unpredictability.”

“Simultaneously we will embed a health economic analysis to give us definitive results on the efficacy and cost-effectiveness of genomic markers in guiding decisive treatment.”

Multidisciplinary team to work on world-first study

The study will bring together a diverse and multidisciplinary team of clinicians, genome biologists, bioinformaticians, clinical trialists, imaging specialists, health outcomes researchers and behavioural scientists, as well as state-based and national consumers to design, develop and implement the world’s first practice-changing study in early prostate cancer.

The initial stage of the project will be implemented primarily at Western Health with additional recruitment to occur at several sites in metropolitan Melbourne including Austin Health, The Royal Melbourne Hospital and St Vincent’s Hospital Melbourne as well as regional sites like Warrnambool and Albury.

The study has been designed by leading clinicians and cancer researchers in Victoria, with significant consumer input. It builds on the PRostatE CancEr Prognosis and Treatment PRECEPT project led by chief investigator Associate Professor Niall Corcoran with Professor Chris Hovens, from the University of Melbourne Centre for Cancer Research and represents the clinical translation and implementation of these findings.

“This important seed funding will allow us to set up the study and complete the first phase, providing the feasibility data necessary to obtain grant support for a national multicentre study with long term clinical follow-up”

The proposed trial presents a globally unique opportunity to collect and compare stated and revealed preference data from a large number of prostate cancer patients, both with and without biomarker information.

In addition to the recent funding from DJPR, Western Health Foundation has committed $50,000 to the project. A further $ 200,000 investment in the project has been made by RULE Australia, a leading philanthropic organisation. The trial is sponsored by the Australian and New Zealand Urogenital and Prostate cancer trials group, and supported by the national Prostate Cancer Outcomes Registry.

For more information on the VCCC Alliance R&E Lead, Genito-urinary Cancers contact Dr Vino Pillay.

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