A new technique dealing with prostate cancer has shown astonishing results in a study where 115 men were treated: not only was what the authors termed “clinically significant cancer” totally eliminated in 80% of the subjects when they were examined one year later, 65% of the men showed no evidence of cancer at all, and prostate-specific antigen (PSA), which is used as a chief marker identifying prostate cancer, was reduced by a median of 95%.
The procedure, which was performed for an average of 51 minutes, involves an MRI-guided ultrasound technique called MRI-guided transurethral ultrasound ablation (TULSA). A rod enters the prostate gland through the urethra, then distributes sound waves, carried by 10 heating elements, to heat and destroy diseased tissue; healthy tissue is left untouched. The sound waves are controlled by an algorithm, which decides what the shape, direction and strength of the waves should be.
The study reported that the median age of the participants in the study was 65; one year after the procedure, only 1% of men were incontinent and PSA reduction was achieved in 110/115 (96%). “Of 68 men with baseline GG2 disease, 54 (79%) were free of GG2 on 12mo biopsy.”
Professor Steven S. Raman of UCLA, co-author of the study, explained, “Unlike with other ultrasound systems on the market, you can monitor the ultrasound ablation process in real time and get immediate MRI feedback of the thermal dose and efficacy. It’s an outpatient procedure with minimal recovery time … There are two very unique things about this system. First, you can control with much more finesse where you’re going to treat, preserving continence and sexual function. Second, you can do this for both diffuse and localized prostate cancer and benign diseases, including benign hyperplasia.”
As the Radiological Society of North America explains, “Prostate cancer is the second-leading cause of cancer death in men after lung cancer. Treating disease in the small gland that surrounds the urethra just outside the bladder is challenging. Surgery and radiation are not always effective and can result in incontinence, impotence and bowel dysfunction. Other currently available techniques lack sophisticated imaging guidance and temperature monitoring.”
The Mayo Clinic adds, “Prostate cancer is cancer that occurs in the prostate — a small walnut-shaped gland in men that produces the seminal fluid that nourishes and transports sperm. Prostate cancer is one of the most common types of cancer in men. Usually prostate cancer grows slowly and is initially confined to the prostate gland, where it may not cause serious harm. However, while some types of prostate cancer grow slowly and may need minimal or even no treatment, other types are aggressive and can spread quickly.”
More good news for men: no bowel complications were found after the procedure as well as low rates of impotence. In addition to treating prostate cancer, the procedure can be used to counter prostate enlargement. As New Atlas reports, “On average, prostate volume among the study subjects decreased from 39 cubic centimeters beforehand, to 3.8 cubic centimeters following the treatment.”
TULSA has been approved for clinical use in Europe and the FDA recently gave it pre-market clearance.