News | April 07, 2014

New method could provide an alternative to "watch and wait" or surgery


April 7, 2014 — A new multicenter clinical trial seeks to offer men another option for treating prostate cancer, one that physicians hope will treat cancers with fewer side effects.

As part of that trial, City of Hope in Duarte, Calif., has become the first center in the nation to perform a new procedure using a focused beam of ultrasound energy to “ablate” the prostate cancer. Traditional treatment approaches, such as surgery and radiation, are potentially very effective in treating prostate cancer, but some men are left facing incontinence or impotence. Men with very slow-growing cancers may choose a “watch and wait” approach, monitoring the cancer and determining appropriate interventions if they become necessary.

In this ultrasound ablation technique, the ultrasound is guided by MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) technology, allowing the ultrasound to be delivered very precisely to the site of the cancer. The imaging provides real-time thermal feedback, which helps physicians determine at the time of the procedure if enough ultrasound was delivered to the targeted area.

“The potential is that if we could provide a focal therapy that has a much lower risk profile compared to standard therapies, this may potentially be an option for men who choose not to ‘watch and wait,’” said Jeffrey Wong, M.D., chair of radiation oncology at City of Hope and a primary investigator on the trial. “At this time, the treatment is under trial and still being evaluated.”

The technology is approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to treat painful bone metastases, and has been used in other countries to treat prostate cancer.

Jaime Negrette, who lives in Long Beach, was diagnosed with prostate cancer by a PSA (prostate-specific antigen) test and sought out an alternative treatment to surgery or radiation. He was treated in mid-November 2013. About six months after treatment, Negrette will know more definitively if the treatment was a success, but so far, he has had no side effects and is doing well.

“I’ve had friends who have been treated for prostate cancer,” he said. “Some men have issues that last long after their prostate was removed, so I was very happy to have another choice.”

The trial includes men with low-risk prostate cancer, with no more than two areas in the prostate gland involved with cancer. The multicenter feasibility trial is ongoing.

For more information: www.cityofhope.org

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