Low-risk ultrasound procedure revolutionizes prostate cancer treatment

A new treatment shows promise for revolutionizing prostate cancer treatment, offering a minimally-invasive and relatively low-risk alternative to traditional surgeries and radiotherapies. Called TULSA, this method uses sound waves to eliminate the diseased tissue in the prostate, leaving the rest of the healthy tissues behind. According to the researchers, patients treated with this method experience 'minimal side effects.'

The transurethral ultrasound ablation (TULSA) method uses an MRI to guide the procedure, which involves inserting a rod through the urethra into the prostate, where it uses heat via sound waves to destroy the cancerous tissues. Unlike the surgery typically used to treat this condition, TULSA is minimally invasive and can be performed as an outpatient procedure.

The technology was recently detailed by the Radiological Society of North America (RSNA), which points out that treating cancer of the prostate is particularly tricky due to its small size and delicate location. Common interventions can come with serious side effects, including the potential for urinary incontinence, impotence, and bowel issues.

Using guided and controlled sound waves, doctors are able to preserve the nerves near the prostate while eliminating the diseased tissues using a total of 10 elements located on the insertable rod. A software algorithm is part of the system — it controls the strength, direction, and shape of the ultrasound beam, though doctors watch carefully using the MRI in real-time.

A new study involving 115 men found that the average treatment time for this procedure is a bit less than an hour. The researchers found that 80-percent of patients experienced elimination of 'clinically significant' cancer and that 72 of the men had no signs of cancer after the first year. As well, incontinence was a very rare side effect of the procedure, which also had low instances of impotence.