$1.6 million for landmark bladder cancer study

A female nurse and two men stand in a medical treatment room.
Fiona Stanley Hospital urology nurse Cynthia Hawks and South Metropolitan Health Service Head of Urology Professor Dickon Hayne with bladder cancer patient and clinical trial participant Bruce Loam.
January 8, 2019

A ground-breaking bladder cancer study which began in Western Australia has received almost $1.6 million in funding and will become the largest bladder cancer clinical trial initiated and run in Australia.

The research is led by Professor Dickon Hayne, Head of Urology for South Metropolitan Health Service and Professor of Urology for The University of Western Australia, who first piloted the study at Fremantle Hospital.

Professor Hayne said bladder cancer was a major public health problem with more than 2500 Australians diagnosed every year, yet bladder cancer was one of the most under-researched cancers.

“Bladder cancer is the only major cancer in Australia with a five year survival rate that has declined in the past 20 years. We are working on how we can improve these outcomes by determining the best possible treatment,” Professor Hayne said.

The trial will test whether combining placing chemotherapy and immunotherapy treatments into the bladder are better than standard immunotherapy treatment alone for localised bladder cancer.

“If this intervention is effective, it would reduce deaths from bladder cancer, reduce the need for complete surgical removal of the bladder and improve quality of life,” Professor Hayne said.

“The new combination of drugs tested in this trial would likely become adopted as the standard treatment method in Australia and internationally.”

Professor Hayne is also chair of the Bladder Cancer Subcommittee of the Australia and New Zealand Urogenital and Prostate (ANZUP) Cancer Trials Group, which runs the clinical trial.

ANZUP Cancer Trials Group is a cancer co-operative trials group conducting clinical trials research to improve treatment of bladder, kidney, testicular and prostate cancers. ANZUP Chair Professor Ian Davis is glad to see the roll-out of this trial to sites around Australia.

“This trial comes at a critical time for bladder cancer treatment and ANZUP is proud to be involved,” Professor Davis said.

“Trials such as this are not possible without support and collaboration across all sectors of the health community.

Professor Hayne conducted the pilot study at Fremantle Hospital leading to Cancer Australia funding for the first stage of the trial, which recruited 180 patients nationally.

The $1.6 million in funding from National Health and Medical Research Council, the most competitive and prestigious research funding scheme in Australia, will fund  the second stage of the trial recruiting a total of 500 patients over the next three years.

“We have been working on this study for almost a decade, which shows the patience and persistence required to perform meaningful clinical trials,” Professor Hayne said.

“Preliminary findings support the new treatment method and this next stage will show if it is indeed the best option and will provide us with truly vital, lifesaving information.

“This trial has already established Australia’s first collaborative network of urologists conducting trials in bladder cancer and we are proudly the first large scale clinical trial in this field in Australia.”

Patients will be recruited from 15 centres across Australia, including Fiona Stanley Hospital.

Follow South Metropolitan Health Service on Facebook (external site) and keep up to date with all the latest news at Fiona Stanley Hospital.