Is Most Cancer Surgery Now Obsolete? New Knifeless Procedure Looks Like a Breakthrough
January 18th, 2015 by Holly Cornish
Recover from “surgery” within days – even the same day!
Urologist Inderbir Gill, M.D., could barely contain his excitement after coming out of surgery.
“We are on the cusp of introducing a new treatment for kidney tumors in America.
“For the same tumor, a partial nephrectomy – which we would have done ordinarily – would have lasted 3 – 4 hours, would have had 300 – 400cc of blood loss, involved four days hospital stay and about a month of recovery.
“Here we got the procedure done quicker, blood loss was barely 10 – 15cc. It decreases the chance of complications, and preserves kidney function while killing the tumor. The patient will have a very good chance of going home today and be back doing normal activities without any restrictions in the next 2 – 3 days. That’s a significant advance.”
It certainly is, and it’s not just restricted to kidney cancer. It can be and is used for cancers of the prostate, liver, breast and pancreas as well. This could save you from conventional surgery and become a major tool in your fight against cancer…
Dirty Little Secret Hidden
in Your Coffee
According to the National Coffee Association, one hundred million American coffee drinkers consume about 1.6 cups a day!
And while there have been clinical studies by Harvard Medical School, Mayo Clinic and Johns Hopkins University that bestow the health benefits of coffee…
…The Center for Disease Control and Prevention has a warning issued for some coffee pods in which coffee is brewed that contains a carcinogen called polystyrene that’s found in Styrofoam and in tobacco smoke…
And even though polystyrene meets FDA standards and are BPA-free, it still has potential to cause cancer.
Click here to find out all about the all-natural treatment that cancer doctors use to treat cancer and protect you against harmful diseases.
What is this treatment? It’s High Intensity Focused Ultrasound – HIFU for short.
We first wrote about this remarkable surgery-without-incisions in our Special Report Don’t Touch My Prostate. It’s a remarkable way to remove prostate tumors without losing the organ or risking the loss of sexual and urinary functions.
Now I’m thrilled to report further advances in this new treatment.
In September 2014 Dr Gill and his team at the Keck Medical Center, University of Southern California, became the first doctors to use HIFU and new robotic technology to kill cancerous tumors in a kidney patient as a stand-alone treatment.
They performed HIFU treatment as part of a clinical trial. An incision was made in the abdomen about a centimeter wide to allow a robotic device to be inserted and the kidney tumor ablated. The procedure can be used on tumors up to four centimeters in size.
The normal operation would involve cutting off the blood supply to the kidney, cutting out the tumor, stitching up and repairing the wound, then restoring the blood supply. It’s a long and involved operation with much greater risk of complications.
Another enthusiast for HIFU is Dr. David Schulsinger of the State University of New York. Commenting in October, 2014, on the new technology (SonaCare Medical’s Sonatherm® Laparoscopic Soft Tissue HIFU Surgical Ablation Device) for treating kidney cancer he said:
“This novel technology represents an advancement in renal ablation given its unique ability to simultaneously image, ablate and track results all with the same laparoscopic probe. Potential advantages to patients include nephron sparing, minimal blood loss, low complications and quick recovery.” The nephron is the basic structural unit of the kidney.
HIFU – a form of hyperthermia
Ultrasound waves are like sun rays entering a magnifying glass to burn a leaf below it. Rays enter the glass, intersect below the lens and burn the leaf at the point of intersection.
With HIFU, the acoustic energy is absorbed into the tissue to generate heat of up to 90°C/194°F if required. This can be focused on a tiny area, no more than a grain of rice. Surrounding tissue is not heated, and so is not at risk.
The principle is very simple. Heat kills cancer cells. HIFU is therefore a form of hyperthermia, a therapy which is used in many alternative cancer clinics in a variety of different forms.
HIFU’s use in medicine goes back to the 1950s when it was used to perform lobotomies in people non-invasively. The first attempt at treating tumors in people was in the 1970s. It failed on both occasions because of problems with temperature regulation and feedback information.
After its successful use in treating kidney stones, HIFU was rediscovered for treating tumors in the 1990s. With the realization that HIFU can cause the instant destruction of cells at specific sites, it once again attracted notice as a serious treatment option. Today, HIFU’s integration with advanced imaging technology and robotics provides greater precision and instrument control.
But please be aware that not everyone with cancer is a candidate for HIFU. It is primarily used for those whose cancer is not too large, is confined to the organ and isn’t too aggressive. So long as patients are carefully selected, then HIFU can be an excellent option.
‘Blowing up’ breast tumors
Lumpectomy and radiation are the usual treatments for patients who want to preserve their breasts. Lumpectomy involves incisions and the use of wires for tumor location. It can yield imprecise results, and second surgeries are required in up to a quarter of cases to fully remove the tumor.
HIFU is an alternative for women whose breast tumor has been detected early. It is considered more satisfactory both cosmetically and psychologically. There is no scar formation, less risk of infection, reduced hospital stay and less anesthesia.
A 2005 study of 22 patients concluded that “HIFU treatment is safe, effective, and feasible for patients with breast cancer. Cosmetic result was judged as good to excellent in 94% of patients.”
Results today should be even better thanks to developments from a team at the University of California, San Diego. They have been working on a way to precisely locate tumors by tagging them with special particles to reduce the likelihood that follow-up surgery will be required. The particles are implanted in the body to help guide the surgeon using ultrasound. The researchers hope in this way to halve the number of second surgeries.
Team advisor Andrew Kummel, PhD, said, “In the long term we want to inject the particles intravenously, have them stick to the tumors, and then ablate the tumors by blowing up the particles with HIFU.”
Targeting prostate cancer
like ‘a fighter pilot’
The traditional way of treating prostate cancer is to remove the whole prostate and/or treat with radiotherapy. Either approach can lead to serious side effects of urinary incontinence, erectile dysfunction and rectal problems.
HIFU has been studied and used most extensively in this form of cancer. It is delivered via a probe in the rectum. Here again, new technology is making for more effective treatments. And when the prostate is treated, you don’t need even the small one-cm incision required when other organs, such as the kidneys, are treated with HIFU.
With new digital scanning procedures, the tumor location lights up red on 3D screen images which allows for more accurate targeting. This pioneering work was developed in the UK at University College London (UCL).
Mark Emberton, Professor of Interventional Oncology at UCL, said, “It means we treat the cancer, not the prostate, and we will pretty much be able to guarantee continence.
“The risk of erectile problems should drop to 5 – 10%, compared with about 50% now.”
Real time ultrasound images employed together with a previously-taken MRI scan allow the SmartTarget technology to superimpose a three-dimensional model of the patient’s prostate.
Any movement of the prostate can be accommodated with the technology to produce a clearer, more accurate picture. This means there is less likelihood of removing healthy tissue along with the cancer. The procedure can also be used to allow for more accurate biopsies.
According to the professor, “It allows clinicians to identify and target the cancer on a computer screen in a similar way to how a fighter pilot is presented with a target.”
Consultant urologist Hashim Ahmed has been involved in research with HIFU and prostate cancer.
“..a 2012 study that I led found 95% of the 41 patients were free of any visible cancer on scans after 12 months. None was incontinent and only one in ten suffered impotence.”
The smart mannequin project
Professor Sunita Chauhan is a specialist in medical robotic technology. She believes we are only at the start in realizing the potential of HIFU as a surgical technique. She first developed Focused Ultrasound Robots – FUSBOTs – for breast and prostate cancer. This has now been extended to other organs.
The big challenge is that organs move in the body, and their movement can be unpredictable. To help model this organ movement, she designed her own patient – a smart robot mannequin – to simulate these movements. The mannequins not only help to train surgeons but save thousands of animals that would have been used for testing.
For Professor Chauhan the ultimate goal is the brain. She believes we’re within sight of neurosurgery without a scalpel to treat brain tumors.
It may not be too far off. In a recent pilot study involving 15 patients with severe tremor, the volunteers experienced very positive outcomes. Targeting the thalamus area of the brain, all 15 improved. There was a 75% improvement in hand tremor, better than 50% improvement in total body tremor, a six-fold improvement in disability scores and better than three-fold improvement in quality of life.
It’s early days and long term trials are lacking – which is why most of the HIFU applications I’ve described have not been approved for use in the USA by the Food and Drug Administration. It’s considered to be an investigational treatment – but the future for HIFU looks promising.
On another front – have you ever wondered whether manufactured vitamins are really the same as natural ones? In the case of at least one important B vitamin, the answer is a resounding “no”! In fact, the man-made version may be a carcinogen! If you missed this news in our last issue, you can scroll down and see it now…
Lee Euler, Publisher