(09/10/13) - A new therapy for early prostate cancer can minimize side effects and get patients back on their feet faster than ever. Stereotactic ablative body radiation therapy is already used to treat brain, lung, and pancreatic cancers. But, now researchers at the University of Pittsburgh are using it to treat early-stage prostate cancer.
Sixty-two-year-old Randy Hass feared his prostate cancer would bring his career as a pilot to a grinding halt. Incontinence is a common side effect of surgery, and a serious issue for a pilot.
"The top priority is being cured," Randy says. "I mean, you know, everything else is secondary to that, but lifestyle, uh, after you get done with treatment, is the next biggest."
Surgery and conventional radiation would have meant months of recovery time. Instead, Randy recovered in weeks. He opted for an experimental therapy for early-stage prostate cancer, called stereotactic ablative body radiotherapy. Doctors use advanced imaging, like CT scans, PET scans, and MRI, and fuse them with a patient's radiation scans.
"We can target tumors inside the body, even tumors that are moving, like with breathing and respiration, with the accuracy of the tip of a pin," says Dr. Dwight Heron.
During the therapy, tiny radiation beams hit the tumor from multiple angles, passing safely through healthy tissue. Patients need only five treatments, instead of the standard 40 or more.
"This is kind of the cutting edge of, of cancer treatment," Randy says.
This treatment is for patients with low and intermediate risk cancer, which means a PSA level of 20, or less, a Gleason score of seven or less, and no evidence that the cancer has spread.
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