Health Watch

Treating Prostate Cancer without Side Effects

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

This year, 218,000 U.S. men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer. Early detection means more of these cancers are curable. But sometimes treatment brings temporary or even long-term side effects -- from erectile and urinary dysfunction to infertility. Now, research is providing new options with less-invasive techniques and better outcomes. Now, here are three ways science is helping men beat this cancer.

This year, college lacrosse coach Michael Martin faced an unexpected opponent -- prostate cancer.

"I guess probably my first instinct probably as with most cancer patients is, 'how can I get this out of me? How can we kill this?'" Martin told Ivanhoe.

Researchers are testing new treatments, like Dutasteride. It's approved to treat enlarged prostates, but doctors say it has other uses.

"What we've learned is that men who take Dutasteride have a 25 to 40 percent lower chance of being diagnosed with prostate cancer than those who don't," Gerald Andriole, M.D., urologist at Washington University School of Medicine, said.

Another weapon in the arsenal against prostate cancer: focal cryo-ablation. Doctors freeze cancer cells to negative 40 degrees. Three-D biopsies allow doctors to target the treatment directly to the tumor.

"That can allow us to just destroy that part of the prostate, and in doing that, destroy that man's cancer in a micro-invasive way," Dr. Andriole explained.

Another advancement: photodynamic therapy. Patients are injected with a medication that sticks to blood vessels. Doctors aim a laser at those vessels, cutting off the tumor's blood supply.

"So, our belief is we will get a super-selective killing of just the cancer," Dr. Andriole, added.

Seven weeks after focal cryo-ablation.

"I feel good!" Martin exclaimed.

This active 59-year-old is back in the game -- cancer-free.

Both the super-cold cryo treatment and the experimental laser are designed to kill prostate cancer in a single, outpatient treatment. Radiation and other therapies can take weeks or even months.

Judy Martin, Associate Director of Media Relations
Washington University School of Medicine
St. Louis, MO

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