Maria Middelares General Hospital Makes East Flanders a Leader with Treatment for Prostate Cancer

On 21 September 2021, treatment with the radioactive material Lu177-PSMA was administered for the first time at the Maria Middelares General Hospital. This is an innovative treatment for patients who have metastatic prostate cancer and who have not reacted to classic hormone blockers, and for whom the disease is in a progressive phase. The treatment can stabilise or halt the progression of the disease.

How the treatment works

Prostate cancer cells have a specific structure on the cell's surface. This structure is known as 'prostate specific membrane antigen' (PSMA). PSMA is present in various tissues, but the concentration of PSMA is especially high in prostate cancer cells. As such, it is possible to detect prostate cancer using a PSMA PET scan and to treat it with radioactive material (Lutetium-177) that binds to this specific structure. This allows for the prostate cancer cells to be locally radiated.

The radioactive material must be injected into a blood vessel every six weeks. The product is administered at the Maria Middelares General Hospital, under the supervision of an oncologist, and in a treatment room that is especially designed for this.

‘Theranostics such as these are the future: the same agent can be used for detection and treatment of cancer cells. There are very promising applications in the pipeline.’

Dr Bieke Van Den Bossche - Department Head of Nuclear Medicine

Advantages of treatment

In approximately two out of every three patients, Lu177-PSMA injections will stabilise or reduce disease activity. In addition, most patients are able to manage the characteristic symptoms, such as bone pain, which improves quality of life.

Compared with other treatments, this treatment has few side effects.

‘I’m convinced that this innovative treatment absolutely offers more value to patients who have metastatic prostate cancer within the multidisciplinary care trajectory ProstaQare.’

Dr Filip Ameye - Medical Board Chair and Department Head of Urology

Collaboration within the E17 Hospital Network

The product for treatment with Lu177-PSMA is delivered by the Groeninge General Hospital (Kortrijk), our partner from the E17 Hospital Network. Groeninge General Hospital is the first hospital in Belgium that received a license to perform this treatment. Recognition and reimbursement for this treatment has been possible since 1 June 2021.

In East Flanders, the Maria Middelares General Hospital is the very first hospital to apply this innovative treatment. Given the good study results, it is expected that there will be great demand for Lu177-PSMA.

‘Lu177-PSMA is a great step forward in the continuous striving for curing patients with metastatic prostrate cancer. And with this new class of medicines, we expect many wonderful results in the future.’

Prof Christof Vulsteke, MD, is the coordinator for the Integrated Cancer Centre in Ghent (ICG) and is the head of the Clinical Research Department for Medical Oncology.