Health Team

New prostate-cancer treatment ditches chemo, surgery

Posted October 1, 2009
Updated October 5, 2009

— Chemotherapy and surgery could become a thing of the past for men with prostate cancer.

UNC Hospitals and Duke University Medical Center are studying a minimally invasive treatment for the disease, which kills one in 35 men.

Non-surgical treatment for prostate cancer tested Non-surgical treatment for prostate cancer tested

Robert Johnson got referred to the trials after a prostate-specific antigen blood test and an early screening indicated he has prostate cancer.

He and other participants are undergoing a procedure called high-intensity, focused ultrasound, or HIFU.

"The positives: You don't have to go through radiation and chemotherapy" or surgery, Johnson said.

The patient is under an anesthetic while a robotically controlled ultrasound goes in the rectum close to the prostate.

"Then, instead of using an imaging frequency for an ultrasound that allows us to look at the prostate, it uses a different frequency that allows us to heat and kill the prostate," said Dr. Eric Wallen, an urologic oncologist at UNC Hospitals.

HIFU is very accurate and spares tissue around the prostate. The gland eventually sloughs off and passes out of the body naturally.

HIFU has been available in Europe and other parts of the world for several years, but it will likely take another 2½ years to get approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

Johnson said he experienced some minor side-effects after the procedure, but five months later, he feels 100 percent.

"I feel like I've been restored. My life has been restored to me," he said.

Patients are being recruited at UNC Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center and at Duke Comprehensive Cancer Center. Eligibility criteria include being 60 years of age or older, organ-confined disease and a PSA level of less than 10.

For more information about the trial and eligibility criteria, call 1-800-288-0031 or go to PCA Research's Web site.


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  • curepeyronies Oct 2, 2009

    Any discussion of prostate cancer is incomplete without mentioning a common side effect of surgical removal of the prostate; Peyronies Disease. This disease, for which there is no satisfactory treatment, results from formation of penile scar tissue, makes intercourse difficult or impossible and is often accompanied by excruciating pain. It was reported in the
    02,June 2008, edition of Medical News Today that almost 20% of men developed this condition after removal of the prostate.

    When I developed this condition, I was unaware that a disease like this even existed. In frustration, I started an informational website, Every email I get describes a man in a desperate situation with nowhere to turn. Urologists must do a better job of informing patients of this rather common side effect, so they will be able to give informed consent before undergoing treatment.

  • concerncitizen Oct 2, 2009

    Dr. Mask, what about us guys with en-large prostate. I am on medication which does make me feel better, but I would love to feel great. I am 60 years old. The removal of my prostate would be great?

  • lawranger9752 Oct 2, 2009

    my neighbor went to europe to have this done after the docs at duke gave him six months to live he now has no trces of the cancer cells and is still here 1 year ago since the six months to live fda really needs to rush this

  • lizard Oct 1, 2009

    We would have had it before now if the FDA hadn't been standing in the way. So much for gov't oversight.