‘Cooking’ the prostate gland for a cure

How many angels can dance on the head of a pin?

No one knows. Nor has anyone, to this point, found the answer to treating prostate cancer. Now, a treatment called high-intensity focused ultrasound (HIFU) is available. So could this procedure be the ultimate way to cure prostate malignancy?

In North America, every three minutes, a man is diagnosed with prostate cancer and every 15 minutes a man dies from it. The major problem has always been, which men should be treated, and when should doctors follow a wait-and-see policy?

Waiting to see what will happen has never been a logical move anytime cancer is diagnosed.

The result is normally the spreading of the malignancy and eventually death. But prostate malignancy, unlike other cancers, doesn’t always follow this rule.

For instance, some prostate cancers are ‘pussycats’, only slightly cancerous, growing slowly and remaining localized for years. In fact, a 70-year-old male with prostate cancer may live for 15 years before the cancer becomes lethal, and by that time he may have died of something else. So why should doctors subject him to the devastating complications often associated with various forms of treatment?

The huge dilemma facing doctors and patients is that some prostate cancers are ravenous ‘tigers’, growing rapidly and out to kill.

Today, tests are available that help to separate tigers from pussycats, but they’re not 100% accurate. So, when and when not to treat is often a life or death decision that requires the wisdom of Solomon.

Today, men who have prostate cancer face a number of confusing options. Radical prostatectomy, in which the entire prostate gland is surgically removed, has been considered the gold standard of treatment. But it’s major surgery with the risk of urinary incontinence and impotence.

Urinary incontinence is encountered less frequently now than in the past as surgeons try to spare the nerves controlling urination during the operation.

But many readers have told me they would never have consented to the surgery if they had been fully informed that they might end their final years in diapers.

Other therapies include external radiation therapy, insertion of radioactive seeds into the prostate gland, hormone treatment, chemotherapy and freezing the prostate gland. But none are without complications.

So what is HIFU and how good is this therapy? HIFU uses energy to destroy tissue. I’m sure many of you remember using a magnifying glass to concentrate the sun’s rays on a piece of paper and see it catch on fire.

Today HIFU accomplishes the same thing, but uses complex computer-assisted equipment. Patients are given a spinal or general anesthesia.

A rectal probe is then inserted which allows the doctor to outline the prostate gland. But the same probe also enables the surgeon to deliver intense thermal heat, up to 85 degrees celsius (185 degrees fahrenheit), to destroy the gland and its malignancy. In effect, HIFU cooks malignant cells to death.

Following surgery patients are often sent home the same day. A urinary catheter to drain the urine is needed for a few days. During that time destroyed prostate tissue is discharged through the catheter while healing takes place.

Patients who have an extremely enlarged prostate that has been causing obstruction of urinary flow, may require an operation to remove the blockage. But this surgery, if needed, can be done at the same time as the HIFU procedure.

HIFU is not for every patient. The malignancy must be confined to the prostate gland and tests such as the Gleason score, (a scale to judge the severity of the cancer), should be low.

Critics say that not enough time has elapsed to know whether there will be a low or high recurrence rate of cancer.

There’s also insufficient data to know how many men will suffer from urinary incontinence and impotence.

Currently HIFU is available in some Canadian cities, but is not covered by provincial medical insurance plans.

The FDA (Food and Drug Administration) in the U.S has not approved HIFU until more long-term data is available. But for those who can afford it, being able to pay $20,000 and go home the same day is an appealing prospect.

For more information call 1-877-787-5906.

See the web site at www.docgiff.com. For comments info@docgiff.com.

Just Posted

Neonatal nurse practitioner joins NICU care team

Babies requiring specialized care at Red Deer Hospital have extra set of hands caring for them

The old Greyhound Bus Depot is being demolished

The Red Deer building has been around for decades

Official torchbearers for 2019 Canada Winter Games announced

Canada Games officials open time capsule from Grande Prairie Games in 1995

Alberta Health Services, United Nurses of Alberta reach agreement to settle union grievance of nursing staffing shortage

Settlement includes the designation of 11.7 full-time-equivalent Registered Nurse relief positions

UPDATE: Two 12-year-olds have been found safe in Airdrie

Public tips were received which led the RCMP to locate the children this morning

UK lawmakers reject Brexit deal in 432-202 vote

House of Commons votes against the deal struck between Britain’s government and the EU

WATCH: World-renowned illusionist, magician, escapist performs in Stettler

Matt Johnson performs two sold-out shows at Stettler Performing Arts Centre

Olivia and Liam top list for Alberta baby names in 2018

Premier Rachel Notley announced the top baby names in Alberta in 2018; Loki didn’t make the cut

Edmonton Police charged 236 people with auto theft in 2018

Police states many of the thefts are crimes of opportunity

Woman’s complaint leads to sexual assault charge against Calgary priest

Malcolm Joe D’Souza, who is 62, has been charged with one count of sexual assault

Saudi teen who was granted asylum in Canada says she’s a lucky one

Rahaf Mohammed Alqunun was fleeing abusive family back home

New migrant caravan sets out from Honduras for U.S.

Caravan has about 300 people, mainly women and children

British Parliament nears historic vote on Brexit

A ‘no’ vote would throw British politics into further turmoil

Most Read