Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Ultrasound used to kill prostate cancer

Less invasive treatment currently being tested

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DIAGNOSED with prostate cancer, Martin Hiebert was facing surgery and a weeklong painful recovery in hospital.

Instead, Hiebert, 62, went in for treatment at 7 a.m. and was on his way home by 3 p.m.

"There was no pain," he said recently about his experience almost a year ago.

"I had a catheter on for eight days and I had some discomfort because of that, but then I was back to normal," he said.

"It was amazing."

Instead of using a scalpel and radiation to attack the prostate cancer, Hiebert took part in a test treatment using high-intensity focused ultrasound with the Sonablate 500.

The device is being used locally at the Maples Surgical Centre by Dr. Darrell Drachenberg, a surgeon and urologist at the St. Boniface General Hospital.

Almost a year after undergoing treatment, Hiebert's prostate cancer hasn't returned.

Drachenberg said the treatment is minimally invasive and has been used for several years in Asia while countries in Europe have used it for about five years.

Fifteen patients in Manitoba have already undergone treatment in the testing phase during the last 18 months.

The doctor said a device is inserted into the patient through the rectum and the focused ultrasound heats the tissue, quickly allowing surgeons to destroy only the prostate and with it the cancer.

Drachenberg said the treatment isn't a miracle cure that will be used by everyone with prostate cancer, but it is another tool in the toolbox of cancer doctors.

"It will never overtake surgery or radiation," he said. "It's not the ultimate treatment for prostate cancer.

"If it is approved, probably about 20 to 40 per cent of patients will use it."

Because the treatment, while approved by Health Canada for the study, is not covered by Manitoba Health, Hiebert had to shell out $22,000 for it.

Hiebert said it was money well spent.

"I feel better than I did a year ago," he said.

"I have energy. Everything has come together. It's amazing what this machine can do. It's an amazing discovery.

"I'll tell anyone who will listen to me."

Meanwhile, this week has been Prostate Cancer Awareness Week, and Drachenberg is holding a free prostate cancer information session on Sept. 20, at the Millennium Library in the Buchwald Room, beginning at 2 p.m. For more information, call 1-877-787-5906.

kevin.rollason@freepress.mb.ca

 

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition September 20, 2009 A3

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