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2 NEW WAYS TO TACKLE PROSTATE CANCER
According to the National Cancer Institute, prostate cancer is cancer that forms in tissues of the prostate (a gland in the male reproductive system found below the bladder and in front of the rectum). Prostate cancer usually occurs in older men. In 2010, there were more than 215,000 new cases of prostate cancer and over 32,000 related deaths. Four types of standard treatment are used. These include: watchful watching (closely watching a patient’s condition but not giving treatment unless symptoms appear or change), surgery, radiation therapy, or hormonal therapy. One of the challenges of prostate cancer surgery is removing the cancer-affected gland without side effects. This process is estimated to cause long-term sexual dysfunction in half of men. CO2 lasers widely used to treat cancer of the head and neck are now being used to help in prostate cancer. The laser helps in the process by aiding in robotic surgery. It's used to dissect the plane between the nerves and the prostate, freeing the nerves and preserving them. It reduces the risk because it's low heat and doesn’t require much manipulation of the nerves. This laser technology, known as BeamPath, is cleared for use by the FDA. Because it's often difficult to establish the ideal amount of radiation patients should receive, a clinical trial is being conducted at VCU Massey Cancer Center to determine if image-guided radiation technology provides better outcomes while reducing risk of injury to normal tissues. By putting markers in the prostate before treatment begins, doctors can track movement in the prostate to ensure the dose of radiation is consistently delivered to the right location. That way, they are hitting the cancer tissue and no other organs, killing cancer cells in less time.