Dialog Box

Trial is gold for prostate patients

You wouldn’t think there would be any silver linings for anyone diagnosed with prostate cancer but in Des Lawson’s case there was, except the linings were made of a little bit of gold.

Des was diagnosed with Stage 4 Prostate Cancer in late 2019, but thanks to a unique trial conducted by the PA Hospital’s Radiation Oncology Department, he is not only currently in the clear, but he also never missed a day of work through the whole process.

Des was a participant in the NINJA (Novel Integration of new prostate radiation therapy schedules with adjuvant and androgen deprivation) trial at the PA. The trial, which ran over 10 days across two weeks in 2020, involved the placement of small gold markers in his prostate through day surgery. Markers which are then used to guide radiation therapy which is delivered in combination with hormone therapy to treat his cancer and stop its progress.

Des said his decision to participate in the trial was a no brainer and that he was blown away by the level of professional and care at the PA.

“They said to me if I don’t do the trial, I may get some time or I may not. To me it was a good option and the way they ran it was just unbelievable,” he said.

Des Lawson.“I’ve never been involved in the public health system before in terms of hospitals, but I just couldn’t believe how good the trial and the care I received was. It was 5 stars as far as I was concerned and that was all the way through. It was a super positive experience for me as a patient and the results have been really good.

“It was my first time going to a hospital and a public hospital at that and you would believe things wouldn’t be as a good as going to a private hospital but that wasn’t so. Not one staff member was rude or anything other than professional and caring.

“If you go into a 5-star hotel versus a cheaper hotel the staff at the 5-star are like, can we do anything, what can we do to make your stay better, that was type of service I received from the PA.”

Concerned about the impact of the trial on his body and mind, the 74-year-old business owner and proud Rotarian was amazed at how little affect it had on him overall, and how simple the whole trial treatment journey was.

“The hormone had more affect than any radiation. I didn’t get sick or anything, in reading about the side effects of the hormone treatment that went alongside the radiation there was shivers and some things, and I experienced that, but I didn’t miss a day of work. It’s quite amazing,” he said.

“I didn’t actually think I would survive but the confidence the staff had at PA that it would be ok was awesome, but I was very wait and see and open minded about it. I was quite surprised how well I’ve bounced back.”

Almost two years on from the trial, Des has his prostate specific antigen (PSA) assessed every six months and is a massive advocate for men getting their PSA tested through what is a simple blood test.

Part of the reason Des encourages men to get their PSA tested, is because had he not met with his GP and got his PSA tested when he did, he may have missed out on a place in the NINJA trial.

“Without a doubt men should just go and get a PSA test. It (PSA) is your only indicator. There is no excuse for men really because they have this great indicator and it’s simple, it’s not a chore,” he said.

“There was only 120 in the trial, and I was 97, so I was quite lucky. Had I not gone to the doctor when I did, I may have missed out on the trial, and I wouldn’t be here.

“I was only aware of it because every year I do a medical and they did mention my PSA rating was going up and it was something to look at. I did a world trip in 2019 and when I got back, I went to the doctor who said I think you’ve got a bigger problem.

“You don’t have to have the prostate check that turns a lot of men off going, just get a PSA and it will start telling you where you are at.”

Des is proud to play a small part in the future of medical treatment.

“I’m aware they can’t get micro cancers and they could be anywhere, but they could do the same technique up to five times before it’s too much radiation for my body. I do understand there could be micro cancers they can’t get, in my mind though I’ve got two years bonus straight away and if something does develop then I’m quite comfortable to go through same procedure and treatment,” Des said.

“I wouldn’t be alive now without research. In the case of men, prostate cancer is the biggest killer for us. It’s such an easy fix to go and have your blood test and keep an eye on your PSA and with this technology it’s not a death sentence.

“In talking to the clinicians, they were very excited about the trial because they thought they could treat almost any part of the body with this procedure. It’s early days but from what I understand pretty much everyone was getting the same result.”

The PA Foundation is your place to give to help prostate cancer patients and drive prostate cancer research and you can donate here 

15 June 2022
Category: Patient stories
Tags: #clinicaltrial, #hospital, #prostatecancer,