Trial tests ‘paste not cut’ skin cancer option

Associate Professor Joe Cardaci

Patients at Perth’s Hollywood Private Hospital are taking part in a global trial for a new type of targeted, non-invasive treatment for non-melanoma skin cancer.

It is the first medical facility in Western Australia to participate in the phase IV EPIC-Skin Study.

Non-melanoma skin cancers such as basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma usually develop in the outer skin layer and are the most common cancers in Australia.

The usual treatment options include surgery or radiation therapy, which may involve multiple courses, and both approaches can leave patients with scarring.

However, this study is evaluating the effectiveness of personalised irradiation using a radioactive compound called Rhenium-SCT, which is applied to the affected area in paste form without damaging the surrounding healthy tissue.

“The EPIC-Skin study offers the opportunity to further demonstrate the efficacy of this new epidermal radioisotope therapy,” said Associate Professor Joe Cardaci, a nuclear medicine physician at Hollywood Private Hospital.

“With non-melanoma skin cancers very prevalent in Australia, it’s important that as a medical community we continue to investigate new treatment options to ensure we are improving patient outcomes,” he added.

The hospital’s participants are among 210 adults taking part internationally – other countries involved include Germany, Austria and the United Kingdom – and their progress will be tracked for two years.

Australian patients were among the first to receive the treatment in recent months, through cancer care provider GenesisCare and Gold Coast’s John Flynn Private Hospital.

The study is sponsored by Germany-based OncoBeta, which produced the compound in partnership with the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation.

“The aim of the EPIC-Skin Study is not to reverse the existing treatment options but rather to show Rhenium-SCT is a patient-friendly treatment alternative,” OncoBeta Australia Medical Director Dr Sam Vohra said.

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