As a nationally recognized leader in medical innovation and high-quality health care, Atlantic Health System is leading the way in prostate cancer detection and treatment with a full suite of state-of-the-art, targeted technologies to benefit patients.
According to David Taylor, MD, a urologic oncologist with Atlantic Health System, the tools and technologies available at Atlantic Health provide opportunities to detect prostate cancer sooner and treat it more effectively.
“Our team of dedicated specialists at Atlantic Health is at the forefront of implementing novel treatment options with great success, improving overall survival rates and quality of life,” Dr. Taylor says.
The five advancements that are changing the landscape of prostate cancer detection and treatment at Atlantic Health are genetic markers, focused ultrasound, androgen receptor therapy, molecular targeted imaging and theranostics.
“Understanding the genetics of the tumor, as well as the genetics of the patient, allows for personalized care, which is crucial for better outcomes,” says Dr. Taylor.
Several inherited gene mutations are linked to an increased risk for prostate cancer, including variations in the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes (which are also linked to breast and ovarian cancer) and those associated with hereditary non-polyposis colorectal cancer (Lynch syndrome).
Other gene mutations are acquired.
Atlantic Health offers superior germline (inherited mutations) and somatic (acquired) genetic testing, as well as genetic counseling, to determine cancer risk and prognosticate disease expression.
Focal therapy (HIFU)
For early-stage cancer that hasn’t spread, traditional robotic surgery, chemotherapy and radiation therapy are common treatment options, but these techniques come with an array of side effects. Focal therapy offers fewer side effects and complications.
Similar to diagnostic ultrasound imaging, which uses sound waves to produce images, high-intensity focused ultrasound (HIFU) uses sound waves at an even higher frequency to target and destroy cancerous tissue.
“We use ultrasound imaging or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to guide a transducer to the targeted tissue,” explains Dr. Taylor. “This treatment is both noninvasive and targeted, sparing the surrounding, healthy tissue.”
Androgen receptor therapy (ARPI)
Androgen deprivation therapy (ADT) is the baseline hormonal treatment for prostate cancer because it reduces testosterone production. When the disease is more advanced, a more aggressive approach is required.
Androgen receptor pathway inhibition therapy (ARPI) is a new hormonal therapy that targets androgen receptors that bind to testosterone, stunting tumor growth and slowing disease progression.
Doctors at Atlantic Health have been successfully using ARPI to improve survival rates of patients with advanced prostate cancer —doubling life expectancy in most cases.
Molecular targeted imaging (PSMA PET-CT)
Another exciting advancement is the use of non-invasive molecular targeted imaging for detecting and staging prostate cancer earlier. PSMA PET-CT (prostate-specific membrane antigen positron emission tomography scan computed tomography scan) is the newest standard of care for treating prostate cancer.
PSMA PET-CT uses a small probe attached to a radioactive molecule to precisely localize prostate cancer cells that express PSMA, a protein on the surface of cancerous prostate cells. The cancerous cells appear as bright spots on the PET scan and their exact location is marked on the CT scan. Doctors can then detect and treat sites of recurrent prostate cancer earlier.
“PSMA PET-CT makes tumors more visible, leading to earlier detection and treatment. It also allows us to target just the recurring cancer cells, rather than radiate the entire prostate bed,” explains Dr. Taylor.
The most revolutionary of all these advancements, according to Dr. Taylor, is the field of theranostics for diagnosing and treating recurring or metastatic cancer through radiotracers. “Prostate cancer is the first area where we have strong, positive data to support the effectiveness of theranostics,” Dr. Taylor says.
Using the same technology as the PSMA PET-CT, a probe is used to inject PluvictoTM, an FDA-approved radiopharmaceutical, into the PSMA-expressing cancer cells. As with HIFU, this targeted therapy kills only the cancerous cells, sparing the surrounding healthy tissue.
For patients with advanced metastatic prostate cancer who’ve tried other therapies unsuccessfully, a theranostic approach has been shown to reduce rates of cancer growth or spreading.
While there is no cure for advanced prostate cancer presently, the innovative technologies used at Atlantic Health have been shown to improve quality of life and even extend life. “The future of prostate cancer care is more targeted, personalized medicine,” says Dr. Taylor. “At Atlantic Health, we have early access to the tools and treatments that are changing the landscape of care, and we are implementing them now.”
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