New skin cancer treatment tested in Australia | Blue Mountains Gazette
Australians with non-melanoma skin cancer are testing a new treatment designed to replace invasive surgery and radiation therapy.
Rhenium-SCT is a one-session procedure where doctors apply a paste directly to the lesion to remove cancer cells.
The treatment is currently being tested on 200 people in Australia, Austria, Germany and the UK.
Jan McGrath was one of the first Australian patients to have Rhenium-SCT.
She was treated at a Gold Coast clinic on February 25 for basal cell carcinoma found on her ear.
Ms McGrath, who has previously had ‘traumatic’ surgeries for other skin cancers, said the new procedure was amazing.
“It was a very pleasant experience,” she said.
“I had to wait almost three hours to let him do his thing. So I just sat in a nice chair and watched TV.”
The Cancer Council reports that around two in three Australians will be diagnosed with skin cancer before the age of 70.
Non-melanoma skin cancers account for approximately 99% of skin cancers diagnosed each year.
Associate Professor Chris McCormack, director of the Melanoma and Skin Unit at the Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre, said the most common treatment was surgery, with radiation therapy being used in some cases.
He said factors such as lighter skin, limited sun protection and drug sensitivity can lead to less serious skin cancers.
“They’re extremely common,” Dr. McCormack said. “These are the most common cancers, period.
“But they don’t kill that many people and it can be dealt with early.”
Associate Professor Siddhartha Baxi, the doctor who gave rhenium-SCT to patients on the Gold Coast, said the new procedure was a “useful weapon” in the fight against skin cancer.
“We have a group of patients with so many cancers that they continually see doctors and have regular procedures,” said radiation oncologist GenesisCare.
“They get tired. Patients are looking for alternatives.
“So it’s quite an honor to be part of an innovation that could change the way we care for some of these patients.”
The global EPIC-Skin study is led by medical company OncoBeta.
Australian director Dr Sam Vohra said Rhenium-SCT is following the Therapeutic Goods Administration’s registration process.
She said Australia’s rollout of the treatment was not dependent on the results of the EPIC-Skin study, as there were already retrospective clinical trials and published case studies.
“But the trial gives it that robustness that many clinicians look for when introducing a new product to market,” Dr. Vohra said.
“It’s really important that we hear from patients and hear about their experience.
“We want to confirm that the procedure is completely painless as it is supposed to be and also has a good aesthetic result.”
The 200 patients participating in the study will be followed for the next two years.
More people will be able to join the trial as it rolls out to clinics in NSW and Western Australia.
Australian Associated Press