The SPARK Trial is a new clinical trial and is underway in Australia in hopes that this stunning new technology can revolutionize prostate cancer treatments using radiotherapy.

A team of Australian researchers have recently developed a new and affordable technology that could cut the treatment time for thousands of men with prostate cancer.

This new software called KIM (Kilovoltage Intrafraction Monitoring), which can pinpoint the exact place of the cancer in real-time.

KIM clinical trails are underway, and this new research makes the usual treatments; radiotherapy safer and even more effective.

Currently there is an existing machine that does improve the accuracy of cancer treatments, but unfortunately there is only one and it resides in Australia with a hefty price tag of $5 million dollars.

Jarad Martin, a radiation oncologist at Newcastle’s Calvary Mater Hospital in New South Wales and co-chair of the trial, said this new, and less expensive software could potentially be installed in any radiotherapy unit all over the world.

Martin also said the problem in the past had been that while a patient was undergoing radiotherapy, the prostate could move.

“As soon as we’ve pushed the “go” button on the radiotherapy, we’re kind of flying blind a little but,” he said.

“And if prostates move during treatment, then it can actually get outside of the area we’re focusing on, which can be the worst of both worlds in that not only are we missing the tumour, but we’re starting to hit healthy tissues and potentially increases the chance of causing side effects.”

By pinpointing the exact location of the cancer, the radiotherapy has now become safer and more effective.

SPARK Trial
Cancer cell

“Up until now we’ve had to have a large safety margin, to make sure that as the prostate drifts around, we’d still be hitting it with the radiotherapy beam,” he said.

“But now that we’ve got this promising new technology, we’re actually able to keep our eyes on the prostate all the way through the treatment.” “And if it moves more than a couple millimetres in any directions, then we’re able to see that happening, push the pause button, and line things up so that we’re bang on the money again before we continue on with the treatment.”

“So by being much more accurate, it means that we’re actually also able to potentially increase the intensity of the radiotherapy a little as well.”

Steve McCluskey was diagnosed with prostate cancer last year, he said that when he thought his treatment would involve 40 sessions of radiotherapy, but now could be reduced to only just 5.

“I thought it was a no-brainer really. They said, we’ve got this brand new thing, it works perfectly, everything’s fine, we just need a couple of people to try it out,” Mr McClusky said.

McClusky joined the SPARK Trail, a group of patients all diagnosed with prostate cancer will receive 5 treatments using the new KIM treatments at Calvary New Castle.

“And I said, yep, I’ll have a go at that’. I’m a great believer in new technology. I think it’s fantastic.”

The SPARK Trial will undergo treatment using KIM and will consist of 48 men.

Martin said he hoped the new technology would be able to be used soon to treat hundreds of thousands of patients world-wide.

“And our hope as well is that it’ll eventually evolve to be used for more than just prostate cancer, because it really does potentially open the door to be able to deliver more accurate treatments to a range of cancers,” he said.