New treatment option for prostate cancer – QNS.com

New treatment option for prostate cancer

When 55-year-old Philip Gaitanis of Athens, Greece first found out he had prostate cancer, he was told he had two options - surgery or radiation - both of which had high rates of incontinence and impotency.
“He got so scared. He said, ‘I don’t want to do it.’ So he started searching on the Internet,” his wife Antigone said.
What Gaitanis found was Brachytherapy, what his doctors in Greece had called an “alternative” treatment, involving the implanting of radioactive pellets with tiny needles into and around a tumor. The radiation often stops the growth and eradicates the tumor, and after all the radiation has been expelled, the microscopic pellets become ineffective.
Although the two isotopes - Palladium-103 and Iodine-125 - are used most often in the procedure, doctors developed a method to use Cesium-131 - an isotope that packs a faster-acting dosage into pellets - within the past 18 months. Cesium-131, which was approved by the FDA in 2003, has a half-life of about 9.7 days, said Dr. Dattatreyudu Nori, Chair of the Radiation Oncology Department of New York Hospital Queens (NYHQ), explaining that a shorter half-life means treatment can be delivered more quickly, and the patient will be exposed to less radiation. In comparison, Iodine has a half-life of 60 days, and Palladium 17 days.
“I consider this as a major breakthrough in prostate Brachytherapy,” Nori said.
After about three weeks of tireless research - generating 150 pages of informational printouts - Gaitanis found two places in the northeastern United States where he could get the Cesium procedure: New York Presbyterian Hospital in Manhattan and NYHQ. At both hospitals, Nori, who is a leader in the field of isotope implants, would perform the procedure.
For Gaitanis, an electrical engineer with IBM, the lower cost of about $35,000 and familiarity with the borough of Queens pushed him to opt for the latter. Gaitanis, a father of two 20-something daughters, planned to pay for the procedure in cash and get reimbursement from his insurance in Greece afterwards. As a young man, he had lived in Flushing as an exchange student at New York Institute of Technology (NYIT).
So on Wednesday, February 21, Nori performed the one-hour, outpatient procedure, believed to be the first of its kind in Queens. Nori had previously performed about 10 of the procedures in Manhattan but none at NYHQ.
“This is an excellent opportunity for prostate patients,” Nori said, explaining that potency remains in about 90 percent of patients and only about 1.2 percent have problems with incontinence. In addition, patients are rehabbed quickly - after two to three hours their spinal anesthesia wears off - and are able to go back to work days after the procedure.
The day after the procedure, Gaitanis said he was feeling well, even though he had endured some burning during urination the night before. After a week of monitoring and rest at a relative’s home in Kew Gardens, he planned to return to Greece with his wife on Friday, March 2.
“Every day you hear of people dying from cancer and you think, ‘My God!’” Gaitanis’ wife said, describing how she nagged him to come along to her yearly checkup and get tested himself.
It was during the physical that doctors noticed elevated PSA (Prostate Specific Antigen) levels, even though Gaitanis had no symptoms like pain or bleeding.
“I’m very lucky,” Gaitanis said. “Everyone should go for their annual checkup.”

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