If you decide to donate your body for prostate cancer research …

… after you pass away, this is the sort of study that you may be able to watch it be used for (always assuming that there is actually a life after death and that you have the ability to observe what happens to your prior “vessel”).

Woodrum et al. wanted to be able to assess the feasibility of 3.0 T magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)-guided laser ablation of the prostate. In other words, they wanted to understand whether it could be carried with a reasonable degree of effectiveness and efficiency. We won’t, for the moment, worry ablout whether it is cost-efficient compared to other possible forms of therapy.

Rather than attempt this procedure on an actual patient, they decided (not unreasonably) to first try the procedure on cadavers. The abstratc provides basic information on the procedure. Greater detail is presumably available in the full paper.

According to the authors, laser ablation of the prostate was successfully performed on five cadavers in total. For two of those cadavers data was available to correlate histologic data with the laser ablation data. The authors state that, in these two cadavers, “the extent of the ablation zone corresponded to the temperature mapping findings and the ablation transition zones were identifiable on hematoxylin-eosin staining.” In other words, they believe that the degree of laser ablation was in fact closely correlated to the actual structure of the prostate.

The authors conclude that, “Transperineal laser ablation of the prostate gland is possible using 3.0 T MRI guidance and thermal mapping and offers the potential for precise image-guided focal targeting of prostate cancer.”

It seems clear to The “New” Prostate Cancer InfoLink that laser ablation of the prostate is a feasible method for the treatment of prostate cancer — most particularly swhen used for focal therapy. (Al Barqawi carried out focal laser ablation on a patient at the University of Colorado in September last year.) However, the real problem with focal therapy is still that we are not able to well-identify the cancer in the prostate that actually needs to be ablated. Nor are we in a postion to know whether the cancer than can be identified necessarily needs to be treated.

At this time we seem to be much better at coming up with ways to treat cancer cells/tumors in the prostate than we are at being confident that we know we have found tumors that actually need to be treated!

4 Responses

  1. Hmmm … Isn’t one of the problems with all “focused” therapies the fact that the prostate gland moves significantly, at least in a live man! I remember reading an eye-witness account of the perceived movement in a gland undergoing brachytherapy. Guess you wouldn’t get the same movement in a cadaver?

  2. To a large extent this can now be addressed through the use of fiducial markers and systems like Calypso.

  3. My father was recently diagnosed with stage 4 prostate cancer and given 3-6 months. He has opted for no treatment. He would like to donate his body to cancer research and I was wondering if you had any resources for me?

    Thank you,


  4. Dear Paul:

    I am sorry but I do not know of any specific resources that can help you with this. However, one possible option would be to contact the urology departments at any of the major, designated National Comprehensive Cancer Centers that are near where your father lives. You will find a list of these centers on the web site of the National Comprehensive Cancer Network.

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