Experimental prostate cancer treatment

October 23, 2009 7:55:20 AM PDT
Doctors who treat prostate cancer are looking at a new treatment using ultrasound waves. At this point, it is still in the study stages, but it could one day be an alternative for some men fighting the disease. The treatment is called high-intensity focaused ultrasound, or HIFU. Doctors need to conduct studies to understand exactly how effective it is and what it can do for patients. The technology is exciting because it is minimally invasive, meaning no cuts and no radiation. Right now, the study is on men whose cancer has returned.

A computerized console and a probe are the two main tools the physicians use in this procedure. They are the tools that will direct and carry the ultrasound waves right into the prostate of the patient on the table.

One patient is 71-year-old Ronald Secoda. Eight years ago, he was treated with radiation therapy. But now his cancer his returned. He chose to be in the clinical study because he doesn't want to have surgery.

"I've never been in a hospital," he said. "I don't know how I could even cope with an operation."

Secoda is only the third person in New York to undergo the procedure, which is done with general anesthesia.

In order to destroy the cancerous tissue with the ultrasound waves, the doctors first map the prostate into sections. The probe, which is anally inserted, is set to carry pulses of high intensity focused waves into each section and hopefully destroy all the cancerous tissue.

Dr. William Huang, of the NYU Langone Medical Center, is the investigating surgeon.

"The concept here is ablating or destroying prostate tissue cancer without causing collateral damage to surrounding structures, without cutting or removing body parts," he said.

Dr. Huang says when compared to surgery, side effects like incontinence and impotence are low, about 10 to 15 percent.

"This has already been treated, this is damaged tissue," he said. "Irradiated tissue, and we're still trying to treat it without causing major side effects."

Ten hospital around the country are involved in the trials with patient who have a recurrence, but whose cancer has not spread beyond the prostate. When the studies are finished, they'll have more information as to how the patients do over the long term. The treatment is already used to treat enlarged prostate.

For more information, visit HifuInternational.com. For more on NYU Langone Medical Center, visit Med.NYU.edu.



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