Trial Pioneers New Standard of Care for Skin Cancer Patients
Patients with advanced skin cancer can now be spared from having to undergo chemotherapy, with results from a new Australian study showing that surgery combined with radiotherapy is a more effective treatment.
Professor Sandro Porceddu from the Princess Alexandra Hospital in Brisbane who headed the TROG Cancer Research ‘POST’ trial said the results showed that for patients with advanced squamous cell carcinoma (one of the most common forms of skin cancer) of the head and neck, surgery and post-operative radiotherapy resulted in high cure rates, in excess of 85 per cent.
“This confirms that surgery and post-operative radiotherapy should be considered the standard of care for treating this disease.”
“The trial also showed that the addition of chemotherapy did not improve cure rates. This will save patients from the added side effects associated with chemotherapy,” said Professor Porceddu.
Professor Porceddu presented the results of the TROG Cancer Research trial to more than 1,000 international medical professionals at the prestigious American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) Meeting in the US last week.
More than 320 patients from 23 hospitals and cancer centres from Australia and New Zealand took part in the 11-year trial, which began in 2005.
Robert Schampers was diagnosed with squamous cell carcinoma of the neck in August 2012. He was happy to be part of the ‘POST’ trial, and had radiation, chemotherapy and surgery.
The 57-year-old roof plumber said he found a lump on his neck one day driving home from work.
“I went for a CT scan and within a week had surgery. The doctors were very confident they got it all but I had radiation and chemotherapy as well just to be safe,” Mr Schampers said. “’Whatever I need, just give it to me’ I said to the doctors.”
Despite being diagnosed with bowel cancer approximately one year after his skin cancer treatment, Mr Schampers said he feels reasonably good and was lucky to be part of the trial.
“I’m a big believer that helping someone else is a good thing,” he said.
“Australia is uniquely placed to lead such a trial due to our high rate of skin cancer. Two in every three Australians will be affected by skin cancer over their lifetime. The prevalence of skin cancer will continue to increase due to our ageing population,” said Professor Porceddu.
“We should be proud of our achievements on the world stage and presenting these results to the ASCO 2017 conference demonstrates that our research is world class,” said Professor Porceddu.