Australian-first treatment: New hope for many Australians living with inoperable pancreatic cancer
Erik Lai, Queensland, has become the first patient in Australia to access a promising new treatment option for inoperable pancreatic cancer, shown to dramatically improve patient outcomes and long-term survival.1
GenesisCare, in collaboration with St Vincent’s Hospital Sydney and the GenesisCare Foundation, has launched an Australian-first treatment program on the MR Linac for locally advanced inoperable or borderline operable pancreatic cancer patients.
The GenesisCare Foundation’s Compassionate Access Program will enable suitable public patients from across the country access to the innovative treatment at no out-of-pocket cost.
Combining an MRI imaging scanner with a linear accelerator, the MR Linac at St Vincent’s allows radiation oncologists to visualise tumours and adapt treatment in real-time, minimising exposure to surrounding healthy tissue.1-2
Real-world data presented at the European Society for Radiotherapy & Oncology (ESTRO) meeting in Copenhagen in May highlighted the effectiveness of ablative MRI-guided radiation therapy in extending survival in inoperable pancreatic cancer.1
Results showed that the median survival of patients in the study was 26 months, compared to the 12-15 months typically seen in patients receiving chemotherapy and standard radiation therapy. The non-invasive therapy had minimal severe treatment-related toxicity and local control of the tumour. Similar results have been reported by GenesisCare and the University of Oxford in the United Kingdom.3
GenesisCare Radiation Oncologist, Dr Jeremy De Leon, said: “Sadly, pancreatic cancer patients have some of the lowest five-year survival rates and limited treatment options available to them. The MR-linac technology is a game-changer for these patients, as it allows clinicians to visualise the tumour and target radiation precisely while sparing healthy organs nearby.”
The MR Linac’s adaptive capabilities are particularly beneficial for patients with complex hard-to-treat cancers, who were previously considered unsuitable for radiation therapy, including pancreatic cancer patients.
Chief Executive Officer of PanKind Australia, Michelle Stewart, said: “The MR Linac treatment will bring new hope to many Australians diagnosed with pancreatic cancer each year.
“We have so many patients contact us every week who have exhausted all treatment options and are completely at loss as to what to do next, so it’s truly fantastic to have this new treatment option available here in Australia,” said Ms Stewart.
When Erik Lai was told there were no more suitable treatments for his cancer, he began to lose hope. “All my wife and I were searching for was more time. I have three young boys. I want to watch them grow up.”
Hope finally came in the shape of a pioneering treatment previously not available to people with pancreatic cancer, made possible through a special GenesisCare access program. “After months of being told I was out of options, that first appointment with Dr Jeremy De Leon at GenesisCare changed everything,” he says.
Erik was diagnosed with metastatic pancreatic cancer in November 2021 and referred for palliative chemotherapy, ultimately being told there was nothing else the doctors could do. “I spoke to so many doctors who told me I had no options left,” he says. “I’m under no illusions about my diagnosis and what lies ahead of me.”
Refusing to give up, Erik, a GP himself, started researching options online, where he discovered the MR-Linac treatment, an extremely precise radiation therapy guided by MRI, for pancreatic cancer patients.
With the support of the GenesisCare Foundation’s Compassionate Access Program, patients like Erik can, for the first time, access the MR-Linac at minimal or no charge, and continue their cancer treatment journey.
“I am so immensely grateful to the GenesisCare Foundation for giving me and my family more time,” says Erik. “Time is so precious. If this treatment can give me a few years, or even a few months, I will just be so thankful.”
- Chuong MD, Bryant J, Mittauer KE, Hall M, Kotecha R, Alvarez D, Romaguera T, Rubens M, Adamson S,
Godley A, Mishra V, Luciani G, Gutierrez AN. Ablative 5-Fraction Stereotactic Magnetic Resonance-
Guided Radiation Therapy With On-Table Adaptive Replanning and Elective Nodal Irradiation for
Inoperable Pancreas Cancer. Pract Radiat Oncol. 2021 Mar-Apr;11(2):134-147. doi:
10.1016/j.prro.2020.09.005. Epub 2020 Sep 16. Erratum in: Pract Radiat Oncol. 2021 May-Jun;11(3):e354.
- Hammel, P et al. JAMA 2016; 315:1844-1853.
- Good, J et al. Feasibility and Safety of daily adapted MR-guided SABR for pancreatic cancer in the UK, ESTRO 2022, viewed May 2022