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Study offers advanced prostate cancer imaging for 1,500 Ontario men

The trial is currently available across five sites in Ontario including the London Health Sciences Centre. Matthew Trevithick / Global News

Researchers at Lawson Health Research Institute are leading a multi-centre registry trial to test the use of a new imaging tracer, called a PSMA tracer.

Its purpose is to detect early and recurrent prostate cancer.

In an official statement released by the LHSC, it’s explained that “PSMA tracers are used in positron emission tomography (PET) scans to target a protein found in prostate cancer cells called prostate specific membrane antigen (PSMA).”

Dr. Glenn Bauman, Lawson Scientist and Radiation Oncologist at LHSC, spoke with 980 CFPL’s Mike Stubbs.

He says the goal of the registry trial is to capture detailed PET images which will then guide treatment decisions made by patients and their care teams.

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Wayne Smith, 71, is one of the research participants, and he told Mike Stubbs on London Live that his experience with the study has been a “positive” one.

“[The doctors] have been so good, and I’m really, really, really happy to have the opportunity to be in the study,” Smith said.

“If there’s something I can do for myself and for others, I think it’s a great thing.”

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The Ingersoll native says he made the decision to have his prostate removed when he was diagnosed with prostate cancer in 2013.

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But his prostate specific antigen (PSA) levels started to increase and doctors were concerned that the cancer has returned.

Smith returned to the hospital for a PET scan through research, and the scan was blank, meaning the cancer was microscopically small.

He was put on hormone therapy and radiation therapy to eradicate any cancerous cells.

Dr. Bauman explains that Smith was permitted to do a much shorter round of hormone therapy, since “early evidence suggests that a clear PET scan despite rising PSA levels is likely associated with persistent cancer at the original site,” according to the LHSC statement.

“The PSMA tracer may be able to locate prostate cancer that was once undiscoverable,” said Dr. Bauman in the statement.

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Smith is one of 1,500 participants in the PSMA-PET Registry Trial, all of them being Ontario men.

The trial is currently available across five sites in Ontario including the London Health Sciences Centre.

The PSMA tracer is considered an investigational agent in Canada and is currently only available through clinical trials.

Dr. Bauman tells 980 CFPL he’s hopeful that “…over the next five years or so, this test will move from a study setting into a more routine setting for groups of men who will benefit from it.”

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As for Smith, he says he’s taking his journey with prostate cancer step-by-step.

“Of course you’re fearful at first, but as you move forward, people give you more confidence,” he said.

“At this point, the outcomes seem to be very good.”

-With files from Mike Stubbs

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