Medical Moment: Prostate cancer

Published: Sep. 28, 2021 at 5:43 PM EDT
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Usually, doctors treat prostate cancer patients with surgery or radiation. But now doctors can offer a new technology to some qualified candidates.

Jeff Cardinal made a point to stay in shape as he hit middle age, but three years ago the results of his yearly physical were alarming.

A biopsy confirmed Jeff had prostate cancer. At first, doctors monitored the cancer, which was slow growing while Jeff considered his options.

“At the time they had an option to cut into my abdomen and remove my entire prostate,” Cardinal said. “Then they also had what they think they called radiation pellets that they would embed in your prostate.”

In the meantime, Jeff learned about a newer technology called high intensity focused ultrasound or HIFU. The ultrasound waves cause the cancerous tissue to die.

They’re delivered by a probe during a procedure that takes about 90 minutes. The FDA approved HIFU for prostate cancer six years ago, but doctors say recent research has helped them identify the best candidates: patients with a moderate risk of having the cancer spread, and who have one or two lesions on the same side.

“If we can see them on the MRI, that’s even better because then we kind of know where we need to treat and we can make that treatment more focal,” says Christopher Weight, MD at Glickman Urological & Kidney Institute at Cleveland Clinic.

Jeff had HIFU earlier this year, and experienced very few side effects.

“I don’t wake up in the middle of the night having to go to the bathroom five times,” he said. “I don’t have to wear a urine bag. I don’t wear a diaper and my hardware works fine.”

Although the HIFU treatment is just given one time, doctors test a patient’s PSA level again in six months to ensure the treatment is working to kill off the cancer cells.

In addition, follow-up includes a scan and potentially another biopsy to make sure there is no recurrence.

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