Prostate cancer is the third cause of cancer deaths among men. A growing number of cases are now being detected at a localized stage, i.e. before metastatic spread, meaning that treatment with radiotherapy or surgery can be started early. Ablatherm, a technological innovation based on the use of ultrasound waves, could offer an interesting alternative for some patients who do not qualify for surgery (mainly men over 70).
The ultrasound technique, developed by Jean-Yves Chapelon's team at INSERM U281 in Lyon (directed by Dominique Cathignol) and transformed into a practical medical application by the French company EDAP Technomed, has a number of appreciable advantages, such as being minimally invasive, cutting the time spent in hospital, and limiting adverse effects. And if the first treatment course is inadequate, the procedure can be repeated (unlike radiotherapy). Initial clinical evidence of Ablatherm's effectiveness, published in the Journal of Urology, was obtained in collaboration with Dr Albert Gelet at the Urology and Transplant Surgery Department of Edouard Herriot hospital in Lyon (directed by Professor Jean Michel Dubernard).
The Ablatherm device destroys tumor tissue by delivering High-Intensity Focused Ultrasound (HIFU) via an endorectal probe. The delivered ultrasound causes an abrupt rise in temperature that leads to local tissue necrosis. The same endorectal probe is also used to visualize the prostate. Using a computer, the physician advances the probe through the rectum until the target prostate tissue is reached, and then triggers shots ultrasound waves. The chosen volume of prostate tissue is destroyed by multiple shots (an average of 500), the beam being moved slightly between each shot. The control software defines the precise target volume and ensures that neighboring healthy tissues are respected (no energy is delivered to non target tissues).
Ablatherm is already being tested in the clinical setting. Preliminary treatment
Contact: Jean-Yves Chapelon
French National Institute for Health and Medical Research (INSERM)