An alternative approach uses sound waves to treat prostate cancer

Bob Damashek was diagnosed with prostate cancer 15 years ago. Due to the early stage and degree of his condition at the time of diagnosis, he was able to avoid surgery and manage his disease through active monitoring by his medical team for any signs of disease progression.

Her cancer remained stable until last year.

Tests for Damashek’s prostate-specific antigen (PSA) – a protein produced by normal and malignant prostate cells – began to rise; a biopsy confirmed that his cancer had worsened.

Bob Damashek is enjoying life to the fullest with his wife, Mimi, after being treated for prostate cancer using a new alternative, minimally invasive approach at UC San Diego Health – the county’s first and only hospital system. San Diego to use state-of-the-art technology.

“I had several family members and friends affected by prostate cancer,” Damashek said. “I know how horrible this disease can be and that getting treatment early is paramount.”

That’s when the Denver resident in his 60s came to UC San Diego Health for a treatment approach that wasn’t available to him at home.

High Intensity Focused Ultrasound (HIFU) is a minimally invasive outpatient treatment for localized prostate cancer. The technology uses high-frequency sound waves directed at cancerous tissue through an ultrasound probe inserted into the rectum.

The sound waves target and heat cancerous tissue to temperatures high enough to cause cell death.

HIFU offers an alternative to surgery or radiation therapy for eligible patients. UC San Diego Health is the only hospital system in San Diego County to offer HIFU for patients with prostate cancer.


Scott Lippman, MD, medical oncologist at UC San Diego Health.

“As the only academic medical center and National Cancer Institute-designated comprehensive cancer center in the region, we can provide patients with cutting-edge treatment not always available in other healthcare systems. health,” said Scott Lippman, MD, a medical oncologist at UC San Diego Health. and Associate Vice Chancellor for Cancer Research and Care and Professor of Medicine at UC San Diego School of Medicine. “Our experts continue to improve approaches to the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of cancers.”

Using the advanced HIFU system, high-resolution images are combined with biopsy data and real-time ultrasound imaging to provide urologists with a 3D view of cancerous tissue. Doctors can then draw precise contours around the diseased tissue, remove only that part of the affected organ, and minimize damage to surrounding structures, including nerves important for erectile function, blood vessels, and muscle tissue. For the patient, the approach minimizes the risk of urinary incontinence and erectile dysfunction.

At the end of the operation, a temporary urinary catheter is inserted to limit the risk of urinary retention (inability to urinate) due to temporary swelling of the prostatic urethra. The catheter is usually removed three to five days after the procedure.

“Using a multidisciplinary approach, we can now treat eligible patients with prostate cancer with state-of-the-art equipment that can remove cancerous tumors with pinpoint precision and faster recovery times because no incisions are needed. is needed,” said E. David Crawford, MD, a urological oncologist at UC San Diego Health and Damashek physician.

For Damashek, that meant a trip to Disneyland the day after treatment and feeling fully back to himself a few days later.

“The surgery was effective and so easy to tolerate it stunned me,” Damashek said. “As a cancer patient, you are always evaluating, worrying and sometimes guessing the best treatment for your specific case. I’m 100% sure I made the right decision. »

Prostate cancer is the most commonly diagnosed solid organ cancer and the second leading cause of cancer death among men in the United States. When detected early and treated appropriately, the five-year survival rate is almost 100%.


E. David Crawford, MD, is a urological oncologist at UC San Diego Health and a Damashek physician.

Despite the severity of some prostate cancers, many cases are not aggressive. A nuanced, multidisciplinary and personalized approach is needed to give each patient the right treatment at the right time.

UC San Diego Health has world-renowned experts in urology, radiation oncology, medical oncology, radiology, and pathology to help patients make critical treatment decisions. Crawford said not all men need surgery or radiation therapy.

Ideal candidates for HIFU are those with early stage, low to intermediate grade cancer confined to the prostate. HIFU is used to treat a single tumor containing part of the prostate, half or all of the gland.

“We have a personalized approach to cancer care at UC San Diego Health, and with HIFU, we have an exciting new way to treat prostate cancer,” said Crawford, professor of urology at UC. San Diego School of Medicine. “It’s like the male equivalent of the female lumpectomy used for certain breast cancers.”

Damashek is back to his cardio workouts and resistance training at the gym and enjoying life to the fullest.

“I feel like a big weight has been lifted off my shoulders. For the first time in a very long time, I am not being eaten alive by cancer. My wife and I are so grateful for the treatment I have had. received by a fantastic team at UC San Diego Health.

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