St George Private Hospital
Part of Ramsay Health Care

Trials Provide Fresh Hope For Cancer Patients


Trials Provide Fresh Hope For Cancer Patients

Jan 16, 2015

In one hand, Noel Garnett holds a glass of water.

In the other, he clutches a small, yellow pill - his last, clinging hope in a race against the clock to beat an aggressive and advanced prostate cancer.

A sailor for many decades, Noel knows that "smooth seas don't make a skilled mariner."

But while he has weathered many a storm in his life, troubled waters never raged like they did in 2008 when he was delivered the devastating blow of an advanced prostate cancer diagnosis.

However, now, thanks to Noel's unflinching self-belief and the dedication of the clinical trials team at St George Private – a glimpse of the shore is close at hand.

"After 10 cycles of chemotherapy there weren't really any treatment options left so I didn't think twice about going on a double blind clinical trial at St George Private.

"This involves being given either an active chemo treatment (1/3rd of trial patients) or an experimental drug for bone lesions (2/3 of patients).
From using magnesium to treat depression, to outcomes for knee replacements see
"My PSA levels came back very high in a routine medical check-up," says Noel, 73, from Allawah.

"Since then I've had hormonal therapy and brachytherapy (radioactive seeds permanently implanted in the prostate) as well as 23 rounds of radiotherapy.

"Despite all that though, I was diagnosed with widespread bone metastases in 2012.

"Whatever I'm getting it's helping. Before the trial I was hardly able to move; in terrible pain and sleeping all day. So far my scans have shown the lesions are shrinking, but I know that is not going to last forever. I am just grateful that for the moment, I am up and about fiddling about with my vintage MG in the garage, and have had pretty well no side effects at all."

Noel is just one of the growing number of cancer patients flocking to St George Private's Clinical Trials Unit every year – which has gained considerable kudos with both patients and the international academic community under the direction of Medical Oncologist Professor Paul de Souza.

Clinical Trials Study Coordinator Julie Ward said patients came from as far as Newcastle, Canberra and Wollongong, after many were given six months to live by their doctors.

And she says GPs were increasingly referring advanced cancer patients to the unit.

"All I know is that I would have been dead without this trial," says Noel. The standard of care I received here; the attention to detail is nothing short of extraordinary."