Melton was just 51 years old when he heard the words that every man fears: “You have prostate cancer.” As he researched his options for treatment, he was unsatisfied. The most common prostate cancer treatments often were described as invasive, uncomfortable and prone to side effects. But with three children, a wife and a bustling business to run, Melton couldn’t afford to wait.
“As I was doing my research, I noticed that so many men reported having side effects that no man would want, much less someone as young as I am,” says Melton. “Then I came across laser ablation during my online research, and it sounded exactly like what I was looking for because it was less invasive and has few side effects.”
Emory radiologist Sherif Nour, MD, FRCR, is one of a few radiologists nationwide performing a new, more targeted procedure called MRI-guided focal laser ablation to treat prostate cancer. Using a multi-parametric MRI that utilizes four types of sequences to collectively identify the area of the cancerous lesion, Nour can pinpoint the precise location of the tumor to verify that the procedure should take place. Once he locates the tumor, interventional MRI technology is used to selectively target and ablate the tumor while maintaining the integrity of the rest of the prostate gland. According to Nour, when compared to breast cancer in women, this new treatment is equivalent to a “male lumpectomy.”
“The options prostate cancer patients have had in the past are to either have surgery, radiation or whole gland ablation that comes with the risk of undesirable complications or to wait under their doctor’s close observation, which causes considerable stress knowing that they may have untreated cancer,” says Nour, associate professor of radiology and Imaging Sciences at Emory University School of Medicine and director of Emory’s new Interventional MRI Program. “MRI-guided focal laser ablation offers our patients who have had a positive biopsy for prostate cancer a less invasive option with minimal recovery time and fewer side effects.”
Traditionally, patients with suspected prostate cancer often undergo a more invasive form of tumor detection and biopsy that can lead to unpleasant side effects. Patients with confirmed prostate cancer may choose a “watchful waiting” approach, which can lead to anxiety. Traditional forms of treatment, such as prostatectomy or radiation, can in some cases, lead to urinary incontinence and erectile dysfunction.
Melton, who was back on the tennis court less than a month after his procedure was the first patient to undergo MRI-guided laser ablation for prostate cancer at Emory. At his three-month check-up, he was declared cancer-free.
“It’s like having a 400-pound elephant sitting on your chest that all of the sudden gets up,” says Melton. “It’s a huge relief. “
Melton is not the only Emory patient benefiting from alternative treatment options for prostate cancer. In the video below, hear from another one of our patients how he found hope and comfort after meeting Dr. Peter Rossi, an Emory radiation oncologist at Winship Cancer Institute of Emory University and, now, also practicing at Saint Joseph’s Hospital.
The 5-year survival rate for men with prostate cancer found in its early stages is nearly 100 percent. Use this time to remind the men in your life to talk to their doctors about their risk and family history and the appropriate screenings.For more information on prostate cancer treatment options at Emory, please use the linked resources below.