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Radiation therapy…for sore feet? New hope for thousands of Australians living with silent foot condition

  • Between 1-4% of Australians are living with Ledderhose disease, a relatively common benign foot condition which can cause painful lumps in the soles of the feet
  • Results from a randomized international clinical trial released this week highlight the effectiveness of radiotherapy, a common treatment for cancer, in managing the condition
  • Newcastle Radiation Oncologist, Professor Jarad Martin, is leading the treatment of Ledderhose disease in Australia at GenesisCare’s Gateshead and Maitland centres in NSW

Newcastle, AUSTRALIA – Results from a global clinical trial are offering new hope to thousands of Australians living with a silent, yet often debilitating foot condition known as Ledderhose’s disease.

Ledderhose disease, also known as plantar fibromatosis, is a benign thickening of the connective tissue (fascia) in the soles of the feet. It typically starts as a small lump and is often painless at first, however can often become debilitating to walk as the lump grows.

Clinical trial results presented today at the European Society for Radiotherapy and Oncology Annual Scientific Meeting (ESTRO) highlight the safety and effectiveness of radiation therapy in the management of Ledderhose disease. The trial showed that 74 per cent of people treated with radiation therapy had a good pain response, which was significantly higher than the cohort who received a placebo. Side effects were rare, and in the majority of paints, the pain remained controlled up to 18 months after treatment.

GenesisCare Radiation Oncologist, Professor Jarad Martin, Newcastle, who specialises in the use of radiation therapy to treat benign conditions, said the “results were welcome news for the thousands of Ledderhose sufferers in Australia.”

Kathleen, an Aged Care Nurse from Maitland, put up with nearly a year of pain caused by Ledderhose’s disease.  She tried a range of remedies such as steroid injections, strapping and orthotics, none of which helped.  “Nobody understands what you’re going through, but it was really affecting my ability to work and starting to get me down,” she said.

Kathleen’s surgeon was aware that low dose radiation therapy has been used for this condition, and referred her for treatment at GenesisCare with Professor Jarad Martin.

 “We’ve been offering radiation therapy to people like Kathleen for the last 5 years, and our experience mirrors the data from the new clinical trial showing that radiation therapy helps the majority of people to get back on their feet again,” said Prof Jarad Martin, GenesisCare Radiation Oncologist.

Kathleen completed 10 sessions of outpatient treatment at the GenesisCare centres in Gateshead and Maitland, one of which was near her work, and the other only 5 minutes from her home.

“Within the first week, I was up and about without any issues, and by the end the constant discomfort was just a bad memory.  I’m so thankful to be free of that pain, and my team of doctors for pointing me in this direction.”

Prof Martin is now working closely with surgeons in Newcastle and across the country to increase their awareness of radiotherapy as a safe and effective option to manage Ledderhose’s Disease.

”It’s great that we can offer this treatment close to where people live, and make a real difference quickly to their quality of life,” said Prof Martin.

“Now we have not just the great experience locally but also high level clinical trial data to back it up, we don’t want to keep it a secret.  People with painful Ledderhose’s Disease which isn’t getting better, should be aware that radiotherapy is an option which they can consider.”