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NSW-first: Sydney man with prostate cancer first in state to receive innovative oncology treatment

Sydney, New South Wales – North-Ryde resident and retired principal, Rod Brooks, has become the first person in NSW to receive highly targeted cancer therapy using an MR Linac at the GenesisCare oncology centre within St Vincent’s Hospital in Darlinghurst.

This is the first centre in NSW and the second in Australia to offer treatment using the Elekta Unity MR-Linac. It combines a state-of-the-art MRI imaging scanner and a linear accelerator so treatment specialists can see tumours and adapt treatment in real time.

The MR Linac is available to treat patients with prostate 1-3 or oligometastatic cancer,4 with new capabilities to treat additional tumour types to be introduced in the future.

Former teacher and high school principal, Rod Brooks, 68yo, was diagnosed with prostate cancer in May 2020 after a blood test returned elevated prostate specific antigen (PSA) levels. This is the second time Rod was told he had cancer, having been diagnosed and treated for bowel cancer in 2007.

“I get regular checkups and blood tests to check my bowel cancer is still in remission, so you can imagine my surprise when the doctor told me that I had cancer again.

“Prostate cancer surgery wasn’t really an option for me after my bowel cancer operation, so I was grateful there were non-invasive treatments that would allow me to keep active and out of hospital,” said Mr Brooks.

Shortly after his bowel cancer diagnosis, Rod became the primary carer for his wife, Kerry, who had multiple sclerosis (MS), a degenerative disease of the brain and spinal cord for which there is no cure. She passed away in 2018.

“I have survived bowel cancer and the invasive treatments that went with it, and then lost my wife two years ago. When I was diagnosed with prostate cancer in May, I thought ‘oh no, not again, what else can happen to me?’ but you just have to stay positive.

“Part of staying positive is keeping active and doing the things you love – for me that’s competitive sailing and playing golf with friends. Continuing these throughout my treatment is really important to me,” said Mr Brooks.

The MR-Linac system is the latest advancement in stereotactic body radiation therapy (SBRT), a non-invasive type of radiation therapy which involves delivering radiation from a source outside the body.5,6

While it is generally administered daily for several weeks (between 20-40 sessions in total), SRBT allows clinicians to deliver a higher dose of radiation across five or less daily sessions.6-8

GenesisCare MR-Linac Lead Radiation Oncologist, Dr Jeremy de Leon, said: “Many tumours are located in organs that move during or between radiation treatment sessions. Tumours can also be located near sensitive organs or tissues, such as the bladder or bowel,2,9,10 so we need to be able to precisely deliver radiation within millimetres, so we target the tumour and not other organs.

“The MR-Linac enables clinicians to visualise the tumour during treatment and adapt to changes in tumour size and location. This allows us to target cancer more precisely and deliver highly personalised therapy each time a patient is treated,”10-12 said Dr de Leon.

“This adaptive patient care in radiation therapy helps to minimise exposure to surrounding healthy tissue and may result in reduced treatment-related side effects, less treatment sessions and fewer visits to the hospital, thereby reducing the overall burden on patients.”10,11

Cancer is a major cause of illness in Australia, and prostate cancer is the nation’s most commonly diagnosed cancer in men,13 with almost 20,000 men diagnosed with the disease last year alone.13 It is also Australia’s third most common cause of cancer death (after lung and colorectal cancer),14 claiming the lives of more than 3,300 Australian men each year.13

GenesisCare Chief Executive Officer, Dan Collins, said: “More than ever in these challenging times, we want to ensure that cancer patients across New South Wales and right around the world receive the right care when it’s needed. This is why we are continuing our investment in the latest technology through our partnership with Elekta.

“The Elekta Unity is a significant step forward for patients with complex cancers. It will allow us to expand treatment options for many people living with cancer across the state. Our wonderful physicians and team members at our centre at St Vincent’s in Sydney are passionate innovators, and this system will enable them to realise outcomes for patients beyond what was possible before.10 We will also foster new research, techniques and innovation based around the huge potential of imaged guided radiation therapy,” said Mr Collins.

Elekta Acting President and Chief Financial Officer, Gustaf Salford said: “With a shared focus on patientcentric care, we are uniting with GenesisCare to ensure treating clinicians can access the latest innovations in adaptive radiation therapy technology for their patients.”


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  9. Lim-Reinders, S., et al., Online Adaptive Radiation Therapy. Int J Radiat Oncol Biol Phys, 2017. 99(4): p. 994-1003.
  10. Bertelsen, A.S., et al., First clinical experiences with a high field 1.5 T MR linac. Acta Oncol, 2019. 58(10): p. 1352-1357.
  11. Kerkmeijer, L.G., et al., The MRI-Linear Accelerator Consortium: Evidence-Based Clinical Introduction of an Innovation in Radiation Oncology Connecting Researchers, Methodology, Data Collection, Quality Assurance, and Technical Development. Front Oncol, 2016. 6: p. 215.
  12. Hall, W.A., et al., The transformation of radiation oncology using real-time magnetic resonance guidance: A review. Eur J Cancer, 2019. 122: p. 42-52.
  13. Australian Government Cancer Australia. Prostate cancer: Prostate cancer in Australia statistics. 2020 [June 2020]; Available from: https://prostate-cancer.canceraustralia.gov.au/statistics.
    14. Australian Government Cancer Australia. Cancer in Australia statistics. 2020 [April 2020]; Available from: https://canceraustralia.gov.au/affected-cancer/what-cancer/cancer-australia-statistics.