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The journey to becoming the 200th participant for the TROG 18.01 NINJA Radiation Therapy Trial has been a remarkably quick process for Raymond Terrace resident, Phillip Bambach.

Phillip was diagnosed with prostate cancer after he visited his GP for a flu shot. With recent years of the pandemic, he thought it wise to keep up to date with regular GP check-ups.

A routine blood test by a nurse revealed an elevated prostate-specific antigen (PSA) level. This prompted his GP to send Phillip for further tests.

“I remember the process being incredibly fast. I was obviously overwhelmed with my diagnosis of prostate cancer and then being referred to different specialists, was something that I had never experienced before,” Phillip said.

“I was asked to return for more blood tests, and an MRI. Then before I knew it, I was listening to my doctor tell me I had prostate cancer.”

Testing conducted by his urologist revealed Phillip had three tumours in his prostate, with no symptoms or indications prior to his diagnosis. This understandably came as a great shock.

“I was overwhelmed by the news but looking back I think I was more focused on moving forward with treatment. I just didn’t want to be in pain or cause any stress for my family.”.

Since his diagnosis, Phillip has been able to balance his time between family and treatment, thanks to the NINJA Trial.

The NINJA Trial finds an optimal participant  

The NINJA Trial compares the effectiveness of two schedules of radiation therapy for the treatment of patients with prostate cancer.

It requires potential participants who have not been diagnosed with a prior or secondary type of cancer. And the cancer can’t have spread to other parts of the body.

For Phillip, the NINJA Trial opportunity was introduced to him swiftly after his diagnosis.

“My Urologist set me to Professor Jarad Martin for a second opinion and he then suggested I participate in the research trial.”

“I was in overall general good health, and Prof. Martin answered every question I had and he didn’t overwhelm me with information, so I had no hesitation saying yes.”

Radiation Oncologist at Genesis Care and Co-Lead Investigator for the NINJA Trial, Prof. Jarad Martin said that providing greater access to treatment for cancer patients is an important step for the future of cancer treatment.

“Clinical trials are how we lift our game in cancer care and are a mission-critical component of modern oncology,” Prof. Martin said.

“It is fantastic that participants in regional communities, such as Maitland have access to leading edge clinical trials, right on their doorstep.”

Phillip was impressed by the new technology and how friendly and supportive the team of nurses and doctors were, during the trial.

“I had no knowledge of radiation therapy before my treatment. I had no experience with cancer, so having my doctors and nurses answer any questions I had, made me and my wife feel reassured,” Phillip recalled.

Ninja Radiation Therapy Trial, NINJA Radiation Therapy Trial participant tells his journey to treatment, TROG Cancer Research
NINJA’s 200th trial participant with TROG CEO, Susan Goode.

The focus of the NINJA Trial

The NINJA Trial is focused on leveraging state of the art radiation technology and advanced imaging to test the effectiveness of fewer treatments for localised prostate cancer patients.

Participants in the NINJA Trial can expect one of two shorter schedules of radiation therapy while traditional radiation treatment can require up to seven weeks of daily treatments. For Phillip, this meant a decrease to five treatments over two weeks.

Phillip’s experience has been a vital part of raising awareness of TROG Cancer Research and Genesis Care’s NINJA Trial and marks an important milestone in the clinical trial.

The recognition of the 200th participant also coincided with Prostate Awareness Month, leading CEO of TROG Cancer Research, Susan Goode to use this example as a reminder for people to check in with their GP regularly.

“Prostate cancer is the third most common cause of cancer-related death in Australia. And early detection and effective treatment can be the difference between a long happy life or poorer outcomes and even death,” Susan said.

“Early detection could lead to involvement in a trial like ours. And ultimately, more time for you to spend with the ones you love.”

Phillip said the TROG Cancer Research team were great to work with throughout the trial.

“If I had a question, they were ready to answer it, the amount of information available about the treatment experience really took the worry off my shoulders. I also felt like I was doing something great for the community.”

The light at the end of the tunnel

Phillip’s radiation therapy treatments at GenesisCare Maitland concluded on Friday 9 September 2022, and he has been vocal about how efficient and informative the process has been.

“The option to take the treatments, only twenty minutes from my house made the process incredibly easy.”

Phillip concluded that the minimal side effects and option to pause treatment at any moment were a great reason to contribute to the clinical trial.

“The shorter trial times were a big factor in why I decided to participate in this trial. I wanted to spend time with my family and grandkids and not be stuck in hospital.

“I also wanted to give this trial the best chance to succeed, if I could help future generations who suffer with cancer that would be a great outcome from this experience.” To learn more about the NINJA Radiation Therapy Trial click here.

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