Approximately 189,000 men in the United States will be diagnosed with prostate cancer this year and many of them will be left with incontinence and erectile dysfunction from their treatments. One doctor's approach is sparing men the dreaded complications.
Three years ago, Ed Gross joined the growing number of men diagnosed with prostate cancer.
"We sat down in his office and he said 'You know, don't have good news for you. We did find a small malignancy.' Hearing the words, it was a shock," Gross said.
Gross was leery of the possible side effects of standard treatments: impotence and incontinence.
"I had just turned 58, and I felt I had a lot of life to live yet. I wanted that quality," he said.
In his search for alternative options, Gross found surgical radiologist Gary Onik, and a procedure called cryosurgery.
"[Cryosurgery] is a minimally invasive procedure. You don't have to cut the patient open to do it,” Onik said. “You can place the probes that freeze the prostate through the skin, and we can monitor that placement using radiology."
While the procedure itself is not uncommon, Onik's approach is.
"You can think of this middle-ground type of treatment as a lumpectomy for men," he said.
Doctors can now freeze only the diseased portion of the prostate rather than the whole gland. The result? The nerves involved in sexual function are spared.
"It's not been done before. So far in the study that we've published and presented, we're talking about 80 percent of our men being potent afterwards," Onik said, and none of the patients have experienced incontinence.
Gross is grateful for the new technique.
"I look at it maybe as a pothole in the highway of life," he said.
Onik says another added benefit of this treatment is that, unlike other treatments for prostate cancer, doctors can always go back and do cryosurgery again if the cancer was to return or if part of the cancer was missed.
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Florida Hospital Celebration Health
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