The most advanced treatment for prostate cancer
IRE (Irreversible Electroporation) is a new therapeutic procedure that also offers new treatment options in prostate cancer therapy – with minimal side effects. Here at Vitus, we use the NanoKnife IRE Ablation System to achieve the best treatment outcomes for our patients.
Current treatments, such as surgery and radiation therapy, result in impotence (loss of erectile function) and incontinence (loss of bladder control) in the majority of men. With Irreversible Electroporation with NanoKnife, these side effects can usually be prevented.
The importance of this paradigm shift in prostate cancer treatment becomes clear when one considers that one in five men will develop prostate cancer in his lifetime. In addition, today not only older but also more and more younger people are affected by the disease. The elderly, in turn, are getting older and staying active longer.
NanoKnife is the first surgical ablation procedure based on Irreversible Electroporation technology. In this procedure, strong electric fields cause the cells to die without exposing the tissue to radiation or heating it. Instead, all tumor cells in the treatment field are reliably destroyed. At the same time, important anatomical structures in and around the prostate, such as nerves, intestinal wall, sphincter and blood vessels, are spared. Erectile function and bladder control are thus not affected in most cases.
Ideal for the treatment of prostate cancer
The NanoKnife process is based on ultra-short pulses of extremely strong electric fields. The pulses are 100 microseconds long – i.e. 0.0001 seconds. Compared to standard procedures, this new technology has unique features that make it ideal for treating the prostate.
- Tissue selectivity: Only cells that have a cell membrane, such as cancer cells, are reliably destroyed. All other structures, such as nerves, blood vessels and connective tissue structures) remain unharmed.
- Ultrasharp edges: NanoKnife allows the area between completely removed and untreated tissue to be measured in micrometers. This sets NanoKnife apart from other treatment methods, such as radiation therapy, heat-based treatments and even surgery. In these methods, the central treatment field is always surrounded by an area where the tissue is unintentionally damaged. Often this is a zone with a diameter of several centimeters.
- Programmed cell death: NanoKnife causes cell death (apoptosis) to occur without causing radiation damage or burns and without forming scars. Current standard methods, such as radiation therapy (proton therapy, brachytherapy, etc.) and heat therapy (HIFU, etc.), always create a large “toxic” area because the burned tissue is toxic to the body. The result is inflammation and pain with subsequent scarring. All of this prevents or limits further treatments that may be needed in the event of a recurrence.
- Repeatable any number of times: Since IRE treatment does not lead to long-term tissue damage, all other treatment methods (radiotherapy, heat, surgery) can continue without restriction after NanoKnife treatment. In addition, treatment with NanoKnife can be repeated as often as necessary.
- Painless and minimally invasive: because no tissue is damaged by burning or radiation. In addition, only thin needles are used as invasive instruments. Thus, our patients usually hardly notice the treatment.
- Fast and in one session: Even extensive areas can be treated under general anesthesia in just one session.
- Wide range of possible applications: The treatment of small, early-detected prostate tumors is the simplest application of NanoKnife. However, NanoKnife is also a treatment option for inoperable carcinomas that have already breached the prostate capsule, as well as for the treatment of recurrences that occur after radiation therapy, radical prostate removal, HIFU or brachytherapy.
- Immune system: The tumor fragments released during NanoKnife treatment support the patient’s immune system in fighting further tumors.
Crucial for therapeutic success with NanoKnife
Since 2006, the IRE technique has been approved by the FDA in the USA and CE marking in Europe. This was done because corresponding studies proved that all cells in a defined tissue area could be killed. In order to achieve this and carry out a successful IRE treatment, two factors are crucial:
- First, the exact position of the tumor must be known before treatment.
- Secondly, the electric field (treatment field) must be placed in exactly the right position.
The first condition is fulfilled at the Institute of Imaging Diagnostics by a multiparameter MRI examination, a 3D biopsy and, if necessary, other procedures. The institute is located in Offenbach near Frankfurt am Main and has specialized in these procedures for ten years.
The second condition is fulfilled by a minimally invasive procedure under general anesthesia. Sterile needles with variable exposure lengths are inserted. “Exposure length” refers to the area of the needle that exposes the tissue to electrical current. We have more than seven years of experience with this procedure and have performed the most prostate treatments worldwide. This makes us one of the leading experts worldwide, while other clinics are just getting started.