Sixty-two-year-old Robert Croft is a participant of the Prostate Advances in Comparative Evidence (PACE) trial, which aims to establish whether just five treatments of radiotherapy are as good as surgery for fighting the disease.
PACE follows the results of the CHHiP trial, a major study released last year which found that fewer and higher doses of radiotherapy are as effective as giving lower doses for a longer period, effectively cutting the number of treatments prostate cancer patients need.
As well as examining the surgery versus radiotherapy option, in a separate arm, PACE will investigate whether the number of radiotherapy treatments can be reduced even further by administering greater doses with higher accuracy, a technique called stereotactic radiotherapy, or SABR.
This will see participants having just five sessions, as opposed to the 20 recommended after the CHHiP research.
Robert was told about PACE and was asked to decide what suited him better, surgery or radiotherapy.
He said: “I’m not medical. I just had to weigh up which seemed the most practical for me. Over two or three days the decision formed – I would choose the radiotherapy trial.
“I learnt I was to be the first patient at Clatterbridge. That didn’t worry me. I have been taken very good care of.
“This is a place where extraordinary things happen for ordinary people.”
It is expected that more men will come forward to take part in the trial over the coming weeks and months.
Suitable patients will be offered a place on the trial by their oncologist and surgeon.
Consultant Clinical Oncologist at The Clatterbridge Cancer Centre and member of the study’s Trial Management Group Dr Shaun Tolan said: “The PACE trial is looking at the new SABR technique of giving just five treatments in five days of higher dose, highly targeted radiotherapy and comparing that to surgery or, in men who don’t want an operation, to 20 standard treatments over four weeks.
“We’ve already seen prostate radiotherapy schedules slashed from seven and a half weeks to four weeks and now PACE is looking at the possibility of treating men in one week.
“This would be a very attractive option for men who wish to avoid surgery or for men who are concerned about the tiredness associated with lots of travelling and the disruption to work and family life caused by many weeks of treatment.”