Launched in 2019, the E.J. Whitten Foundation Prostate Cancer Research Centre at Epworth has a vision – to develop and implement innovative treatments to improve the lives of men with prostate cancer.
As a world-class, dedicated medical research group, the Centre is undertaking projects and trials to seek better ways to diagnose, treat, prevent and potentially cure prostate cancer in order to advance today’s medicine into the future.
“The first twelve months has been happily challenging and very rewarding. Particularly as we have been able to lead the establishment of the new Nanoknife service at Epworth,” says Associate Professor Nathan Lawrentschuk, Director of the E.J. Whitten Foundation Prostate Cancer Research Centre.
Irreversible Electroporation (IRE) uses a device called the Nanoknife under ultrasound guidance to pass an electrical current through prostate tissue, leading to prostate cancer cell death sparing surrounding important structures. Patients diagnosed with “dangerous cancer” that is life threatening generally must undergo whole gland (radical) treatment with potential side effects. The NanoKnife is treating just the cancer plus a small safety margin – this is called focal therapy. Focal therapy is potentially advantageous by killing the cancer at most threat to the patient with very few side effects.
He continues, “We currently have twenty urologists and radiation oncologists involved in trials through the Centre and the Centre has seven trials underway or in planning.”
Epworth and the E.J. Whitten Foundation have partnered to commit $2 million over five years into translational research in the field of urology, specifically for prostate cancer research.
“It really puts Epworth a step ahead, and gives more options for men with localised prostate cancer. It also helps men who have not had successful radiation therapy to avoid significant and risky surgery,” says A/Prof Lawrentschuk.