The treatment operates using magnetic resonance imaging to guide a laser fiber into a cancerous tumor in the prostate to destroy the tissue with extreme heat.
“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. This is akin to a lumpectomy for breast cancer. Instead of removing the whole organ, target just the cancer inside it. What we are doing with prostate cancer now is like using a sledgehammer to kill a flea,” study senior author Dr. Leonard Marks said in a press release.
The study used Medtronic’s Artemis device, which combines both MRI and ultrasound for imaging during ablation procedures.
Previous treatments struggled to appropriately capture images of cancer in the prostate, due to the similarity between prostate and cancer tissue. Use of MRI allows more precise imaging of tumors, and allows for more accurate ablation, the study reports.
Two studies, which evaluated a total of 19 men treated with laser ablation under MRI guidance, reported no serious side effects, but will require a longer-term follow-up, researchers said.
“This focal therapy provides a middle ground for men to choose between radical prostatectomy and active surveillance, between doing nothing and losing the prostate. This is a new and exciting concept for prostate cancer treatment. I think we were so successful in this effort because of the experience we gained doing the targeted biopsies. That allowed us to go from biopsy to treatment,” Marks said in prepared remarks.