Innovative new trial for Sheffield prostate cancer sufferers

Roger Gibson and Jack Glaves
Roger Gibson and Jack Glaves

Sheffield’s specialist cancer hospital is throwing its weight behind an innovative trial which is set improve the lives of men with prostate cancer.

As the city marks Prostate Cancer Awareness Month this March, Weston Park Hospital Cancer Charity is now raising vital funds for two pioneering projects.

The first project is rather unusual.

Sticking pins in your ears might not be sound like the best way to tackle side effects from cancer treatment. But acupuncture sessions have been described as ‘unbelievable’ in relieving a common ‘hot flush’ side effect in prostate cancer patients.

The charity is hoping to continue to provide funding for these vital sessions.

Auricular acupuncture, which consists of five needles being placed in each ear for a half hour period, has proven benefits after taking hormonal treatment.

The group sessions, which run each week, have become increasingly popular as patients recognise the notable improvement of symptoms after just four sessions.

Roger Gibson, aged 70, from Beighton, was diagnosed with prostate cancer back in 2010.

He was referred to the Cancer Support Centre in 2015 when he started experiencing hot flushes after taking hormonal treatment alongside radiotherapy at Weston Park.

The former coach driver said: “I’ve seen a remarkable difference in the intensity and frequency of my hot flushes.

“My wife and I enjoy coming to the centre for the sessions as the staff there are so welcoming and friendly – and they don’t make a bad cuppa either!”

Fellow acupuncture patient Jack Glaves, aged 82, said he’s also seen an ‘unbelievable’ difference in his symptoms since attending the sessions, which he says have ultimately turned his life around.

Cancer Support Centre manager, Karen Holmes said: “When the cancer charity started funding the auricular acupuncture sessions back in April 2015, we never imagined that we would have such a big uptake and positive impact on patients’ lives. We knew the benefits associated with this type of therapy historically, but the patient feedback for this specific complementary therapy has been unbelievably positive.

“Looking closely at the feedback gained from those who have attended the acupuncture sessions, a staggering 89 per cent of attendees reported improvement for hot flushes, 72 per cent reported improvement in sleep and 53 per cent reported improvement in general well-being.

“We are very grateful to Weston Park Hospital Cancer Charity for funding these sessions, and thanks to their generous supporters, these vital services can be offered to those who are most in need, before, during and after treatment.”

The cancer charity’s second fundraising drive involves a swanky new piece of kit.

It is raising funds for a piece of equipment which will enable prostate cancer patients to benefit from a new and more advanced radiotherapy technique, known as SABR.

SABR will soon be offered to early stage prostate cancer patients the hospital as part of a groundbreaking new trial.

Weston Park will be one of only a handful of centres in the UK to be offering this new treatment. It is hoped results from the trial will enable the hospital to play a role in this cutting edge approach and ultimately secure the hospital’s position at the forefront of radiotherapy developments.

SABR aims to deliver a more concentrated dose of radiation in fewer treatment sessions.

Around £45,000 is needed to secure it.

Dr Omar Din, a clinical oncologist at Weston Park Hospital specialising in the research and treatment of prostate cancer, said: “We are extremely excited to be involved in this new trial.

“The success of this treatment could potentially have a huge impact and reduce the standard radiotherapy treatment schedule for early stage prostate cancer patients from 20 sessions over four weeks to just five treatments over one week.

“This potential reduction in the time taken for the treatment to be given will have a significant, positive impact on both patients and the radiotherapy department.”

Charity fundraising manager Helen Gentle said: “As a charity, it’s incredibly important for us to support projects which will ultimately transform the way cancer services are delivered right across the region.

“We invest money across all cancer types, but also have specific projects and specialisms in particular areas, which means money donated can be spent on certain cancers, where a vital need is identified.

“The funding of equipment for the new SABR radiotherapy treatment will ensure that Weston Park Hospital and moreover Sheffield can make an impact worldwide and help develop the cutting-edge cancer treatments of tomorrow.

“During Prostate Cancer Awareness Month we would encourage those thinking of supporting the cancer charity this year, to visit our website or give us a call to find out the many different ways they can help make a difference in 2016.”

The fundraising drive coincides with Prostate Cancer Awareness Month, which is being held across the UK.

Prostate cancer currently accounts for 25 per cent of all new cases of cancer in men in the UK.

Figures now suggest that cancer will affect a staggering 50 per cent of the population by 2020 – and Weston Park is hoping to play a leading role in ensuring the hospital is equipped for this increase in demand.

Last year, Weston Park Hospital Cancer Charity raised just under £2m to support life-changing projects within Weston Park Hospital. The hospital treats patients from all over South Yorkshire, North Nottinghamshire and North Derbyshire – a population of almost 1.8m people.