In the U.S., prostate cancer affects 300,000 men and causes 24,000 deaths every year. Statistics show a fairly high incidence of prostate cancer in men of Indian origin. In its early stages, prostate cancer does not cause any urinary symptoms, but is diagnosed by an abnormal prostate-specific antigen blood test or an abnormal prostate exam. This disease is treatable and curable in its early stages. However, once the disease spreads outside the prostate, a cure is not possible.
Traditionally, prostate cancer is treated with surgery, radiation or both. The most common form of surgery is a robotic prostatectomy using a surgical robot. Today, over 80 percent of prostatectomies performed in the U.S. are done using the DaVinci robot. Dr. Ashok Kar, former director of robotic and minimally invasive surgery at St. Joseph Hospital of Orange, was instrumental in bringing the surgical robot to Southern California.
Following robotic surgery, the biggest side effects are sexual dysfunction and urinary incontinence. Radiation involves multiple treatment sessions spread over a six-week period, which can also produce sexual dysfunction and affect surrounding structures, such as the rectum and bladder.
In recent years, a new technology has been produced to treat prostate cancer without radiation or surgical incisions called high intensity focused ultrasound. This procedure is a revolutionary form of therapy for organ-confined disease with its ability to produce the same results as a surgical or radiation procedure without the long-term effects. These cases are done in a single session as an out-patient.
Sonablate, a device used to create the ultrasound, focuses high intensity sound waves to create heat at a specific location, called the focal point. With its state-of-the-art technology, HIFU can be used to destroy targeted tissue in a procedure customized individually for a patient's prostate cancer.
In the near future, a combination of ultrasound and MRI fusion technologies will create the ability to treat cancerous lesions of the prostate without affecting the surrounding structures, minimizing side effects further.
In 2015, the Federal Drug Administration approved the HIFU procedure for ablation of the prostate. Used in over 39 countries, this therapy is now available to patients in the U.S.
Kar is a consultant urologist at the MiVIP Surgery Center in Tustin, Calif. Since 2010, he has traveled outside of the U.S. to extensively learn and perform these procedures. In early December 2015, Kar performed the first Sonablate HIFU procedure in Southern California and the fifth in the nation. Additionally, he lectured and demonstrated the procedure to 10 Southern Californian urologists who are interested in offering this therapy to their patients. Due to its minimal side effects and high success rates, Kar highly recommends it as the current best treatment for prostate cancer for selected patients.
“As an experienced robotic surgeon, I am excited to be able to offer this new technology to selected patients,” said Kar in a press release.