Prostate Cancer - Conquering Cancer
Seeds of Life
By implanting tiny radioactive capsules, Monmouth Medical Center pioneers are helping men wage a tough new war against prostate cancer.
They resemble grains of rice, so small that dozens can be cupped in the palm of your hand. But when these radioactive capsules are placed directly into the prostate gland, they deliver a powerful punch against the second-leading cause of cancer death among American men: prostate cancer. This innovative, low-dose procedure, which is performed by a team of highly skilled urologist, radiation oncologists and physicists, dramatically limits the radiation dose to surrounding healthy tissue.
Since 1998, this pioneering radiation implant therapy, also called permanent seed brachytherapy (PSB), has been performed at Monmouth Medical Center in Long Branch, the region's top provider of state-of-the-art cancer and urological services.
Know the symptoms
In its earliest stages, prostate cancer generally progresses slowly. Watch for these symptoms:
- Frequent urination or inability to urinate
- Trouble starting or holding back urination
- Weak or interrupted urine flow
- Frequent pain or stiffness in the lower back, hips or upper thighs
How healthy is your prostate?
Two simple test can yield an answer: a rectal exam to feel for abnormalities of the prostate gland and a blood test that measures prostate-specific antigen (PSA), an enzyme produced by the gland.
"When performed together, these test are the most effective tools to detect prostate cancer early," says Arnold Grebler, M.D., chief of urology.
Beginning at age 50, men are encouraged to undergo annual checkups that include both tests. Men at high risk for the disease, including African Americans and those with a family history of the disease, should begin routine testing at age 40.
If the PSA finding is abnormal, DR. Grebler recommends men undergo an advanced blood test known as percent-free PSA testing, which measures the normal fraction of prostate-specific antigen in the specimen. Monmouth Medical Center was the first hospital in the region to offer this diagnosis tool.
And last year, Monmouth became the first hospital in central New Jersey to offer real-time, dynamic, computer-assisted planning for men with early-stage prostate cancer undergoing PSB.
PINPOINT ACCURACY The new VariSeed system produces 3-d images of the prostate while the procedure is under way. The images are transmitted to a planning computer in the operating room. A sophisticated software program then calculates the number of seeds needed - and their precise placement - to deliver the most effective dose.
REAL-TIME FEEDBACK "The intraoperative planning program is critical for identifying the approach to be followed in placing the seeds," says Arnold Grebler, M.D., chief of urology at Monmouth. "It also provides 'real-time' dose calculation and dynamic feedback during the procedure."
"This significant advance allows us to immediately gauge the dose to the prostate from the seeds as we are implanting them," says Adam Raben, M.D., chairman of the Institute fro Advanced Radiation Oncology at Monmouth. "It gives us a tremendous advantage in minimizing the dose the urethra and the rectum while delivering the proper dose to the gland itself."
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