Breakthrough prostate cancer treatment trialled at Nepean Hospital
The next generation of prostate cancer treatment has arrived with a new robotic laser therapy system revolutionising the way surgery is performed. The new technology is improving patient outcomes for men and ensuring a better quality of life post procedure.
Associate Professor Dr Celi Varol (right) and Urology fellow Jonathan Kam (left) successfully trial new prostate cancer treatment technology
Currently trialled at Nepean Hospital is a needle guided laser ablation treatment that targets the prostate cancer without having to remove the whole prostate gland or affecting the function of prostate gland itself.
Nepean Hospital Urologist, Associate Professor Celi Varol, the mastermind behind the new Australian technology, has spent close to a decade perfecting its design, manufacture, and trial.
“As doctors we have to listen to our patients and it was commonly asked ‘why can’t you just remove the cancer and leave the rest behind?’. It’s a valid question, we as surgeons do this for other cancers. We remove part of a lung, part of a brain, but don’t remove the entire organ. That began the genesis of what the new laser treatment is today,” says Celi.
The procedure works by placing a needle into the prostate gland that has a laser system on the end which heats up the cancerous cells to destroy the most diseased part of the prostate.
While Celi emphasises the breakthrough laser procedure is still in clinical trials and may not be appropriate for all patients, it does offer hope for many men facing prostate cancer in the future. Rather than lose their prostate entirely and risk significant and lifelong nerve damage, the focal laser therapy treatment could not only allow patients to survive the cancer but also maintain full function.
“With the assistance of MRI we’re able to target the cancer with the highest of accuracy. By targeting the cancer itself, and leaving the organ intact we are providing an opportunity for our patients to experience next to no side effects,” says Celi.
“This is a day only intervention and the patient returns home the same day. The procedure is relatively inexpensive, usually requires no overnight stay in hospital and has minimal recovery time for the patient. Everyone wins, especially the patient.”
Urology Fellow, Dr Jonathan Kam has spent the past year learning traditional robotic assisted surgery at Nepean Hospital and is impressed at how accessible the new laser ablation technology is by comparison.
“The new treatments huge benefit is that it is exceptionally easy to learn and teach. Its simplicity means our most junior registrars can get their head around the technology without requiring years of overseas training,” says Jonathan.
The technology is already receiving international acclaim, with both Celi and Jonathan winning first prize for their research presentation at the Frontiers in Oncologic Prostate Care and Ablative Local Therapy Meeting in Los Angeles.
“The reception has been overwhelmingly positive. We’ve had institutes and organisations come to us asking how the device works and when they can trial it, as it far exceeds any other laser technology out on the market,” Jonathan explains.
The technology behind the treatment was nominated for the Health Research and Innovation Award at this year’s NSW Health Awards.