Prostate cancer is a low hanging cloud waiting to rain on some man’s parade. But there is an umbrella now capable of shielding men from that peril. Treatments and detection of prostate cancer have recently undergone an evolution, lessening the burden the disease brings with it.
There is a new technique that specifically works extremely well for finding and determining the location of tumors in association with prostate cancer. The technique is called restriction spectrum imaging-MRI (RSI-MRI), dubbed so by University of California San Diego (UCSD). Dr. Rebecca Rakow-Penner, research resident at the Department of Radiology in the UCSD School of Medicine, explained how this imaging technique is able to provide better biopsy targets, even with the smaller tumors.
Another from UCSD, David S. Karow, an assistant professor of radiology, explained the surgical value as it can help doctors more effectively decide on a course of treatment. This imaging method, while new, also has other merits that help it stand out against previous ones.
The predecessor of RSI-MRI, the diffusion MRI, used the water in the body to locate tumors. However, there were several drawbacks which have led to RSI-MRI being necessary. Diffusion MRI basically distorts the location of tumors – by as much as 1.2 cm or so – because of “magnetic field artifacts.” The magnetic distortion is enough to deter surgeons, who need precise information when removing a tumor, for instance, how deeply enmeshed it is with the surrounding nerves or how far it extends beyond the prostate itself.
The study performed by the California university included 28 patients with prostate cancer who took both scans prior to surgery, and the scientists were able to conclude that RSI-MRI was superior as it corrects the magnetic distortion issue. In theory, this new method may also be able to determine the grade of tumors. With this new and evolved detection technique, the non-invasive scans have spared many cancer patients the risk of exploratory surgical treatments.
Since chances of surviving prostate cancer fall dramatically after it begins to spread to other parts of the body, techniques that can better anticipate the stages of the disease can give someone a fighting chance. However, even if the cancer spreads, a new fusion of radiation and hormone therapy has a much higher chance of saving a life than the two have separately. Researchers at the University of Pennsylvania have pioneered a new treatment for aggressive prostate cancer in men, ages 76 to 85, which reduces the fatalities by nearly 50 percent.
As the ages lower, the combination therapy increases the chances of survival more and more. Hormone therapy stops males hormones that linked to tumor growth, and past studies have proved that radiology increases survival among younger men. This new study has similar results with an older demographic. The findings are critical because two in five men over 75 with aggressive prostates mainly receive hormone therapy alone.
The lead author behind the study, Justin Bekelman, an assistant professor of Radiation Oncology at the University of Pennsylvania said “Failure to use effective treatments for older patients with cancer is a health care quality concern in the United States.” Bekelman urged both patients and doctors nationwide to consider combination therapy in place of the individual treatments, and also said that the evolved process presents minimal side effects and has a less invasive detection method both tolerable and effective in the fight against prostate cancer.
By Matthew Austin Bowers