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Precise Application of Laser Heat Can be the New Face of Prostate Cancer Treatment

Jun 14, 2016 11:11 PM EDT
Laser Ablation
An illustration of how laser ablation is used to treat prostate cancer.

A recent study conducted by researchers at University of California, Los Angeles has confirmed the efficacy and safety of focal laser ablation in men with intermediate risk prostate cancer. Focal laser ablation is the precise application of heat through a laser to a tumor.

The study, published in the Journal of Urology, has found no serious adverse effects or changes in urinary or sexual function six months after the procedure.

Previously, surgery and radiation are the known treatment for prostate cancer. However, these treatments can result to some serious side effects, such as erectile dysfunction and urinary incontinence. Also, non-invasive surgical treatment for prostate cancer has been proven to be difficult due to the similarities of prostate tissue and tumor tissue.

For the new treatment, researchers used magnetic resonance imaging, or MRI, to guide the insertion of a laser fiber into cancerous tumors. When the laser was inserted, it is then heated to destroy the cancerous cell.

"Our feeling was that if you can see prostate cancer using the fusion MRI and can put a needle in the spot to biopsy it, why not stick a laser fiber in the tumor the same way to kill it," explained Dr. Leonard Marks, a professor of urology and director of the UCLA Active Surveillance Program, in a statement.

For the study, eight men were asked to undergo focal laser ablation while in an MRI machine. No serious side effects were reported six months after the procedure. However, researchers still need a longer-term follow up is order to continue the appropriate assessment of treatment margins to ensure cure.

If the new laser-based treatment is proven to be effective and safe, men suffering from prostate cancer can now choose between radical prostatectomy and active surveillance, between doing nothing and losing the prostate.

Although, the new treatment may look very promising, it is not yet approved for use in prostate cancer by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

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