New treatment may help patients with prostate cancer

More than 230,000 men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer this year.

In most cases, surgery is considered the gold standard of treatment.

However, doctors could soon turn to a new option that involves something we hate come winter: freezing temperatures.

The process is called focal cryoablation - freezing and killing - cancer in the prostate.

Bob Wilson, a prostate cancer patient, traveled hundreds of miles to have this treatment, instead of complete removal of his prostate.

Wilson says, "I want to continue to live as normal, as normally as I can for as long as I can and there's a lot of side effects with radical prostatectomy that I didn't want."

A new study from the Journal of Men’s Health shows the results of focal cryoablation on 70 patients followed for an average of 10 years.

Continence after first treatment was 100 percent. Potency after first treatment was 94 percent and disease- free survival for all patients was 90 percent.

Doctor Gary Onik, Interventional Oncologist at Carnegie Mellon University, says, "And what we have found is that in our group high risk patients had the exact same 90 percent chance of being disease free. That's remarkable."

George Tholke is one of the patients in the study. The day after the procedure, he played tennis.

Tholke says, “To me it's a slam dunk, it's logical. You can go back and redo it if you do something wrong."

Dr. Onik has been using a 3D mapping technique to gather tissue samples for a more precise diagnosis. He believes most prostate cancer patients could be candidates for this treatment - freezing a common cancer - in its tracks.

Men with advanced prostate cancer may not benefit from focal cryoablation.

Since this was the first long-term study of the treatment, doctors want to see another done, in order to confirm and compare results.


TOPIC: Frozen Lumpectomy for Prostate
REPORT: #3806

PROSTATE CANCER: The prostate is a gland found only in males that is typically around the size of a walnut in younger men and can grow larger in older men. It's located below the bladder and creates a fluid that nourishes the sperm. When gland cells begin forming in an uncontrolled manner, a tumor can form in the tissue of the prostate, leading to prostate cancer. More than 60 percent of prostate cancers are found in males over the age of 65 and rarely occur in men under 40 years old. Some forms of prostate cancer can grow and spread quickly, leading to problems in other parts of the body. Doctors refer to this as metastatic prostate cancer. (Source:
TREATMENT: Treatments for major cases of prostate cancer include:
* Radiation therapy using high-powered energy to kill cancer cells
* Hormone therapy to halt your body's production of testosterone which prostate cancer cells need in order to grow
* Surgery to completely remove the prostate

NEW TECHNOLOGY: After the success of the lumpectomy on breast cancer for women, a male lumpectomy was introduced to limit the need for risky prostate cancer treatments while continuing to produce positive results. A new study shows that focal therapy using cryoablation can be a successful alternative to radical prostate cancer treatments. According to the study, focal cryoablation can achieve a cancer-free status in medium to high-risk patients with a lower morbidity and a better post-cancer life. Dr. Onik of Carnegie Mellon University believes that improved cancer results can be achieved by an immunologic effect caused by the dead tumor as it is removed by the patient's body, basically acting as a patient specific "cancer vaccine". Longer testing is needed before this new treatment can become widespread. If positive results continue to occur, focal cryoablation could have the potential to completely change prostate cancer management. (Source: Journal of Men's Health)

Gary Onik, MD
Interventional Oncologist
Professor of Mechanical Engineering
Carnegie Mellon University
Phone: (321) 297-4489

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