Bristol doctor spearheads prostate cancer initiative

June 28 2021

Men in Bishopston, Redland and St Andrews will soon benefit from an innovative scan that can help doctors catch and treat prostate cancer that returns after initial treatment much earlier, thanks to an initiative from a leading local oncologist.
As part of his new role as a Prostate Cancer UK clinical champion, Dr Amarnath Challapalli, consultant clinical oncologist at University Hospitals Bristol and Weston NHS Foundation Trust, is leading a project to improve access to PSMA PET scans across the region.
These scans detect radiation given off by a radioactive dye which is injected into the blood stream and collects in areas where prostate cancer may have spread. They can spot recurrent cancer at an earlier stage than other scans, so are particularly useful for men who have already been treated for prostate cancer but are at high risk of the disease returning.
Dr Challapalli is one of 22 healthcare professionals chosen to be part of Prostate Cancer UK’s inaugural clinical champions programme. Over the next 18 months, the charity will support each champion to lead a project that will improve prostate cancer care at a local or national level.
Dr Challapalli said: “Unfortunately, about a third of men will see their prostate cancer come back after surgery. The advantage of PSMA PET is that it helps us catch recurrent prostate cancer at a very early stage – before other scans would have detected it. This means we can start their next treatment sooner and give men the best chance of a potential cure.”
PSMA PET scans will also help identify men who are suitable for a promising new treatment for advanced prostate cancer called Lutetium-177. Lutetium-177 delivers a radioactive load to prostate cancer cells by targeting PSMA, a protein which is found on the cells’ surface. A Phase 3 trial of this drug recently showed positive results and Prostate Cancer UK is working with stakeholders to lay the groundwork for its use in the NHS.
Dr Challapalli added: “By improving access to PSMA PET across Bristol, we can make sure men will be able to benefit from this exciting new treatment as soon as it’s approved.”
Amy Rylance, head of improving care at Prostate Cancer UK, said: “Ongoing innovations to prostate cancer services are vital to ensure men can access the highest quality care wherever they are in the UK. That’s why we’re delighted to welcome Dr Challapalli to the clinical champions programme and support him as he drives this initiative forwards.
“Widening access to innovative technologies like PSMA PET is vital if we want to give men the best chance of a good outcome. We are confident that the skills and expertise Dr Challapalli will develop over the next 18 months will help him deliver these improvements to prostate cancer care and make a real difference to men in Bristol.”