Most doctors will recommend courses of radiation and chemotherapy for patients diagnosed with cancer, and while the procedures do help eliminate cancer in many patients, they can sometimes fail to eradicate it completely. So, what are your options when these two common treatments fail you? Well, if you suffer from recurring prostate cancer, your answers may lie on opposite ends of the thermometer.
Freezing Out Cancer Cells
Like any other living tissue, cancerous tissue can't withstand freezing temperatures very well. With prostate cancer, doctors take advantage of this weakness through cryosurgery, which is a method of removing bad tissues with extreme cold.
The process is relatively simple, though it of course required expert precision. First, your doctor will examine your prostate and colon for scar tissue, which can interfere with the surgery. If you don't have too much scarring already. The next step will be to numb you from the waist down and insert a catheter, which you'll need to keep other parts of you from freezing during the procedure.
Next, the doctor inserts long needles into the problem tissues and begins filling them with freezing cold gases. As the cancer cells freeze, their cell walls are destroyed, ensuring they are unable to recover after surgery. Once the doctor is satisfied that all of the cancer tissue is destroyed, the needles are withdrawn and recovery begins. Some patients can leave the hospital on the same day as treatment is performed, but it's also possible you'll need to stay a day or two to recover first.
Afterwards you may experience some bruising at the site where the needles were inserted. On the plus side, studies indicate that breaking down most of the cancer cells can stimulate an immune response to attack the other ones, helping your body fight off any cancer cells the surgeon couldn't remove.
Utilizing The Power Of Ultrasound
You may not typically think of sound waves as having a temperature, but when it comes to ultrasound, things can get pretty hot. In a procedure called a High Intensity Focused Ultrasound, or HIFU, ultrasound waves are focused on cancerous tissues in a way that scorches them rapidly and destroys the cells.
Much like laser surgeries, which also use heat as a surgical tool, HIFU surgery is completely outpatient. First, your doctor will perform an MRI or an ultrasound to identify areas of cancer on the prostate, then you'll be numbed below the waist just like in cryosurgery. The surgeon will maneuver a rectal probe to the problem areas, and then use focused ultrasound waves to burn them. No incision or injection is necessary beyond the anesthetic.
HIFU is unique in that it is not that well understood. Currently, the only way to receive a HIFU treatment for prostate cancer in the US is to take part in a clinical trial. While this does mean you may experience unexpected side effects, it can also be somewhat of a financial boon to cancer sufferers. Patients in clinical trials have the cost of their HIFU surgery and subsequent year of follow-up appointments completely covered, which can ensure that people who couldn't otherwise afford a year of treatment after surgery still receive it.
Temperature is a powerful thing when employed with the practiced precision of a cancer surgeon. If your cancer just keeps coming back after treatment, it may be time to talk to your doctor about whether cryosurgery or HIFU treatments might help. At the very least, they provide significantly less complex alternatives to traditional surgery, with no big incision, short operating times, and faster recovery. Don't let cancer trap you in a hospital bed -- exploring your minimally invasive options first could save you weeks of healing. For more information about other detection and treatment options talk to companies like International HIFU.