Prostate Cancer Treatment – Huge Advances

Today (20.12.16) a news story caught my attention, marking a huge milestone in the treatment of prostate cancer with the development of a drug which can treat the cancer without the side affects of radical surgery. Radiology often sees men experience incontinence and erectile dysfunction as a side affect, which can be hugely damaging to a persons self esteem and personal life. What does this mean? Of those who trialled the treatment, almost 1 in 2 were cancer free after 2 years, compared to around 1 in 7 without the treatment. While not entirely foolproof, what really interested me was how this drug works and its incredible potential.

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The drug is made from bacteria which live on the seafloor in complete darkness – this being the key to the treatment. This bacteria becomes toxic only when it is exposed to light. By inserting fibre optic lasers through the perineum, the bacteria is activated and begins to work on killing cancerous cells, but leaves a healthy prostate behind. The huge benefit of this treatment however, is to the lives of the patients themselves – there were no impacts on sexual activity or urination for more than three months, and after two years the men trialled had no significant symptoms. The success of the trial of this treatment means that potentially, prostate glands may no longer have to be removed to cure the cancer – an incredible feat.

Prostate cancer is a deadly disease, killing around 11,000 men each year. Consequently, I think such an advance in the treatment could be the beginning of controlling such a cancer, and limiting its life long effects. While understandably, when to intervene with a prostate cancer diagnosed patient needs to be considered as tumours are slow growing, the potential is tremendous and the trial is a positive indicator for the development of this treatment.

sources: BBC News, BBC website, http://edition.cnn.com/2016/12/20/health/prostate-cancer-laser-drug-treatment/index.html

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