On 16 June 2022 PCaSO’s Rustington Group welcomed Andrew Hart, one of two Oncology Nurse Specialists at Worthing Hospital. Our thanks to Andrew for a positive talk on what’s new or changed in prostate cancer treatment in our area. As our summary of Andrew’s talk:

The recent merger between the Western Sussex and Brighton hospital groups has created the University Hospitals Sussex NHS Foundation Trust. The merger has proved beneficial, for example in efficient accessibility of patient records.

The Oncology team had coped well throughout the challenges of Covid-19, but there is a backlog of newly diagnosed cancer patients, particularly those with more advanced disease. The frequent use of telephone follow-up appointments continues to work well and reduces the need for patients to travel to the hospital.

Prostate cancer treatments have not changed significantly, with chemotherapy at Worthing, radiotherapy at Brighton and surgery by Guildford’s highly specialist team. MpMRI scans remain an important diagnostic tool, with PET scans becoming more accurate and targeted.

New drugs are available, notably for men who are becoming resistant to androgen deprivation therapy (hormone) drugs. Affected local patients are generally responding well.There are new immunotherapy drugs that target the prostate., and new drugs that focus on metastatic prostate cancer (bones /lymph glands) are being trialled but not yet approved for NHS use.

The long-running ‘Stampede’ trial has identified that certain diabetes drugs can be beneficial for prostate treatment. Various other outcomes have already been implemented.

New ‘stereotactic body radiotherapy’ treatment is very precise and with less side effects than current radiotherapy. Patients also need fewer sessions, for example reducing from 20 to 7 attendances. The Royal Marsden Hospital has ‘cyber knife’ technology that can very precisely target areas such as single lymph glands.

Genetic testing for DNA mutations, that can identify at-risk patients, is not yet a routine testing process. Similarly there is no screening programme for PSA (prostate specific antigen), as the current test is not an ideal diagnostic tool due to false positives and negatives. Research continues into other ‘markers’ such as blood or urine tests to find cancer-specific proteins.

Men over 50 still have a right to ask their GP for a PSA blood test.