As they age, men know they should be on guard against prostate cancer. But how, exactly?
“Many of our patients have questions,” says Sandip Prasad, MD, a urologic oncologist for Morristown Medical Center. “So we have invested in new ways to identify and treat patients at higher risk who are suffering from prostate cancer.”
When a prostate-specific antigen (PSA) test or abnormal prostate exam shows elevated levels, doctors first perform a prostate biopsy that typically samples less than 1 percent of the prostate. But “only 30 percent of first biopsies are positive,” Dr. Prasad says. For men with prostate cancer that is not initially detected, that can mean more blood tests, exams and follow-up biopsies before the true diagnosis can be made. Patients at Morristown Medical Center now have access to MRI-guided fusion biopsy, which lets doctors “identify abnormal areas with much more precision,” Dr. Prasad says.
A New Hope
Once cancer is detected, more men and their doctors are opting for active surveillance based on research demonstrating that, in many men, prostate cancer often grows so slowly that the risks and side effects of treating prostate cancer may outweigh the benefits of removing the cancer.
“Thirty-five percent of our patients are now following their prostate cancer, whereas that was 5 percent or less even just a decade ago,” says Dr. Prasad. “That’s because we have more tools, including advanced imaging and genetic and molecular tests, to better estimate the true risk of an individual’s prostate cancer.”
But active surveillance does not have to mean “do nothing.” Morristown Medical Center was selected to be part of the nationwide ENACT clinical trial, which is testing an FDA-approved drug for prostate cancer to potentially medically treat certain prostate tumors while on active surveillance rather than simply watching them.
Lee Pressler, MD, attending urologist at Morristown Medical Center, says that, “another new advance is trying to minimize the complications of surgery. Morristown Medical Center is the first center in the Northeast to use the PROPEP surgical nerve monitoring system to identify the nerves that control continence, which has shown to result in a significant increase in the urinary control rate in patients post-operatively.”
“It’s an exciting time,” says Dr. Prasad. “In prostate cancer, we have done things the same way for the past 35 years, but now, we can offer patients the newest technologies for identifying, following and treating their disease.”
To learn more about the ENACT trial at Morristown Medical Center, call 973-971-5373.