Researchers Unveil Novel Ultrasound Technique to Treat Prostate Cancer
Sat, April 10, 2021

Researchers Unveil Novel Ultrasound Technique to Treat Prostate Cancer

A new technique using ultrasound for treating prostate cancer without the need to undergo surgery shows promising results / Photo by: Korawat photo shoot via Shutterstock

 

A new technique using ultrasound for treating prostate cancer without the need to undergo surgery shows promising results. Researchers say the procedure carries minimal side effects and could also help in treating benign prostatic hyperplasia or enlargement of the prostate.

The novel method comes as the second most diagnosed cancer in men becomes resistant to treatment and makes it deadlier. Researchers have presented their work at a meeting of the Radiological Society of North America ahead of the study's publication in a peer-reviewed journal.

 

Destroying Prostate Cancer

Prostate cancer is usually treated with surgery and radiation, but these procedures can leave men impotent. A new procedure avoids this risk by using soundwaves to destroy the tumor and puts unaffected areas away from harm. The treatment uses a rod-shaped device, which is guided by magnetic resonance as it is inserted in the urethra to "administer precise bursts of ultrasound," reports The Independent, a British online newspaper.

Studying the new procedure involved 155 men with localized prostate cancer. The newspaper adds that cancer was significantly eliminated in 80% of the men in the group after the treatment, with 65% having no traces of the condition a year later. A majority of the participants also showed reduced blood-antigen markers for prostate cancer along with no reports of bowel complications.

Steven Raman, a co-author of the study from the University of California, says the new technique is an outpatient procedure that requires minimal recovery time and treatment time lasts an average of 51 minutes. "We saw very good results in the patients, with a dramatic reduction of over 90% in prostate volume and low rates of impotence with almost no incontinence," he adds.

Raman explains that there are two very unique things about the new procedure: First, doctors will have "more finesse" on the area that needs treatment, allowing them to preserve continence and sexual function. Second, it can be used for both diffuse and localized prostate cancer as well as benign diseases like enlargement of the prostate.

The method is called MRI-guided transurethral ultrasound ablation or TULSA, and it can be repeated if the first treatment isn't effective since it's a minimally invasive procedure. European regulators have already approved TULSA for clinical use in the region, The Independent reveals.

Prostate cancer is usually treated with surgery and radiation, but these procedures can leave men impotent. A new procedure avoids this risk by using soundwaves to destroy the tumor and puts unaffected areas away from harm / Photo by: Shidlovski via Shutterstock

 

Treatment-Resistant Cancers

Raman and his colleague's new work comes at the best time as prostate cancer becomes resistant to existing treatments. Earlier this year, scientists found that one of these supposedly life-saving treatments was the cause for the condition to turn into an aggressive and incurable disease.

Recently developed anti-androgen therapies for prostate cancer were seen as major progress in treating the condition. These therapies helped lower or stop androgen levels from stimulating prostate cancer cells to grow.

However, wellness new site Healthline reports that men who were given this treatment were exposed to a deadly treatment-resistant cancer known as neuroendocrine prostate cancer (NEPC), a type of cancer that has no effective treatment.

Maria Diaz-Meco, the lead author of the study that looked into how prostate cancer became treatment-resistant, says NEPC is growing to account for 30% of all diagnosed prostate cancer cases—a major jump from the previous 2% to 5%.

"Things have changed a lot due to the new generation of androgen inhibitors, which are much more potent than earlier ones," Diaz-Meco explains. According to Healthline, the androgen treatments increased survival against prostate cancer that are difficult to treat and areas where tumors have spread.

However, the lead author says these treatments can also help cancer become resistant, similar to bacteria developing resistance to antibiotics. "The incidence of these neuroendocrine tumors after targeted treatment is now much higher."

Future Plans

The results of the TULSA study outline the efficacy of using ultrasound to treat prostate cancer and the "preliminary promise" of employing high-intensity frequency ultrasound (HIFU) in treatments.

This is important considering that using ultrasound in treating this condition was associated with impotence and urinary bother, according to Louis Potters, deputy physician-in-chief and chairman of radiation oncology at the Northwell Health Cancer Institute.

While the researchers are optimistic about TULSA's potential, they note that additional studies would still be needed.

"This preliminary study begins to make a science out of ultrasound delivery to avoid toxicity and potentially show favorable cancer control," Potters tells Healthline. "Additional work is needed to validate these results and to assess longer-term tumor control."

With careful study, Potters says ultrasound may soon become an option for men to avoid radical surgery for prostate cancer. Further proving the procedure's effectiveness will also help men avoid undergoing androgen treatments, decreasing their chances of developing the treatment-resistant NEPC.

TULSA may also get approval for clinical use in the US. Researchers now have 510(k) clearance from the US Food and Drug Administration to demonstrate that their device can be safely and effectively used in clinical practice.

This new way of treating prostate cancer is indeed a welcome development for men with the disease as it will make their treatment so much easier to bear.