Health Team

New prostate cancer treatment being tested

Posted August 9, 2010 5:30 p.m. EDT
Updated August 9, 2010 6:41 p.m. EDT

A new treatment for prostate cancer is being put to the test. It uses lasers and lights to try to zap cancer in its tracks.

Bill Pupplo was diagnosed with prostate cancer four months ago.

“I had a high PSA (Prostate-Specific Antigen). I went to a urologist and we did a biopsy, and we found out that I had cancer,” he said.

Pupplo’s cancer was caught early, so he planned on taking a wait-and-see approach. Then he learned about an experimental treatment at Langone Medical Center in New York, specifically targeting cancer cells.

“The real appeal of an approach like this is that it's non invasive,” said Dr. Samir Taneja.

Thin laser activated needles are positioned over the prostate where cancer cells are identified. The patient is then given a drug activated by light. Once the drug has enough time to find the cancer cells, the lasers zap them.

“Wherever the light meets the drug, blood vessels are destroyed and hopefully the prostate cancer in that location is destroyed as well,” Taneja said.

It may destroy the cells without side effects like sexual, urinary or reproductive problems, which traditional treatments such as surgery and radiation may cause.

“They all aim to destroy the entire gland,” Taneja said.

Pupplo will have another biopsy next month to see if he's cancer free.

“At least now I've done something that may work, so I have something to hope for,” he said.

NYU and four other centers nationwide are testing out this new potential treatment. They plan to treat about 30 men. So far, 17 have had the procedure done.