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Breakthrough Prostate Cancer Treatment Uses Ultrasound Waves to Eliminate Tumors

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By Elias Marat

Doctors have made a tremendous step forward in the fight against prostate cancer, using targeted ultrasound pulses to successfully eliminate the disease entirely in 65 percent of cases with few side effects.

The new method, detailed in a study presented at the annual meeting of the Radiological Society of North America (RSNA), could be a promising alternative to surgery.

Prostate cancer is the most common cancer among men, second only to skin cancer. It is also the second leading cause of cancer deaths among men in the United States. According to the American Cancer Society (ACS), an estimated 174,650 men in the U.S. will be diagnosed with prostate cancer in 2019 alone.

Traditional treatments involving surgery and radiation have proven challenging due to their life-altering effects, namely leaving subjects impotent, incontinent, or with bowel dysfunctions. An estimated 3 million survivors of prostate cancer are alive in the U.S. today.

Yet the revolutionary new technique avoids such risks by relying on a rod-shaped device that is inserted into the urethra and uses magnetic resonance or MRI to focus precise ultrasound pulses on tumors, heating and destroying them while leaving the surrounding areas entirely unharmed.

The minimally invasive method, called MRI-guided transurethral ultrasound ablation—or TULSA—was used on 115 men suffering localized prostate cancer.

According to researchers, in 80 percent of the cases most signs of cancer were eliminated, while all signs were gone in 65 percent of the cases after one year. No bowel complications were reported, overall, while most men saw their blood-antigen markers for prostate cancer reduced.

Steven Raman, a co-author of the study and professor of radiology and urology at the University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA), explained:

It’s an outpatient procedure with minimal recovery time.

We saw very good results in the patients, with a dramatic reduction of over 90 percent in prostate volume and low rates of impotence with almost no incontinence.

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.

TULSA has already been approved for clinical use in Europe and has received the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s 510(k) clearance for prostate tissue ablation on a nationwide level.

The researchers hope that follow-up studies support the initial results of clinical trials so that the technique can become an important tool in the fight against prostate cancer and other prostate ailments.

By Elias Marat | Creative Commons |

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