During a routine physical in September 2006, retired airline pilot Jeff Albulet's doctor thought he 'felt something' when he did a digital rectal exam, although Jeff's prostate specific antigen (PSA) was only 2. Six months later, Jeff's PSA rose to 3.5, and a biopsy showed pre-cancerous cells. In discussing his options with his primary care physician, he learned about a treatment that would save his prostate and not cause impotence or incontinence.
According the Dr. Friedrich Douwes, Medical Director of St. George Hospital in Bad Aibling, Germany, president of the German Oncological Society and the author of several hundred scientific articles and books, trans-urethral prostate hyperthermia has a 100% initial response rate.
Albulet's doctor had heard Douwes speak at a medical conference in Las Vegas, NV. Douwes helped to develop the Oncotherm radio-wave hyperthermia treatment, which heats the entire prostate without harming healthy tissue. He has successfully treated thousands of prostate cancer patients, many from the USA. In use for over 25 years, radio-wave hyperthermia is the treatment of choice in Europe for many cancers. When Albulet learned that the treatment took only one week and had a dramatic success rate without side effects, he was elated.
The prostate is a small, walnut sized gland that sits in front of the rectum and just below the bladder. This gland produces the fluid that carries sperm through the urethra (the tube that carries urine from the bladder to outside the body.)
As early as age 40, the prostate may increase in size. By age sixty, 80% of men have an enlarged prostate. This can cause the urethra to narrow, decreasing urine flow. Symptoms include an urgent need to urinate, a thin stream and discomfort above the bladder. Sometimes, prostate cells begin to grow abnormally, forming a tumor. Symptoms of prostate cancer may include blood in the urine, frequent urination (especially at night), weak or interrupted flow, pain or burning when urinating and low back pain. In most cases, early prostate cancer causes no symptoms.
According to the American Cancer Society, prostate cancer is the second most common malignancy in men in the US, and the second highest killer. Over 200,000 men in the US were diagnosed with prostate cancer in 2007. In this country, all men have a 16% chance of being diagnosed and a 3% chance of dying from this disease. Chances increase if a father or brother has had the disease. Prostate cancer is more common in African American men and the least common in Hispanic, Asian, Pacific Islanders and Native Americans.
In 2002, the British Medical Journal published a study that concluded male pilots have an increased risk of prostate cancer, especially those with regular long flights. Researchers speculate that hormonal disturbances related to circadian rhythm may be a contributing factor. Pilots and their crews are also exposed to low-energy ionizing cosmic radiation which can cause mutations within human DNA.
Conventional treatment combines surgery (removing the prostate), radiation and chemotherapy, along with hormone blockers. Side effects almost always involve incontinence and permanent impotence.
Most men are horrified at the thought of becoming impotent and incontinent. Perhaps that is why so many prostate cancer patients are seeking non-invasive treatments outside the country. Douwes' trans-urethral hyperthermia offers a cure without side effects.
In this treatment, a small probe is introduced through the urethra into the prostate. Radio frequencies are pulsed into the prostate, heating the cancer cells to between 113 and 158 degrees. Because cancer cells have a different blood supply than normal cells, they either die or become so damaged from the heat they can no longer reproduce. Normal cells are not affected. This treatment is non-surgical, so no pain medications are needed and only local anesthesia is required. And there are no side effects. Patients stay in the hospital for five days, and receive two trans-urethral treatments during that time, along with limited hormone modulation and other non-toxic medications.
According to Douwes, this treatment combined with a temporary androgen blockade is 100% effective. The ten year disease-free survival rate is 80%. The 20% of patients who have a PSA relapse in three to five years after the initial treatment can simply repeat the treatment for longer lasting good results.
The American Cancer Society recently revised its guidelines for routine prostate cancer screenings because of the risk of overtreatment. Douwes feels that PSA tests are not reliable tumor markers. Often, patients with positive biopsies undergo an unnecessary prostatectomy. Sometimes the 'wait and watch' approach is better, but can cause undue stress on the patient. Prostate hyperthermia is the perfect answer – it kills of the cancer cells immediately, establishing a prostate specific immune reaction and eliminating the chance of metastases.
Jeff Albulet traveled to Germany in May of 2007. "The treatment was a breeze; I felt no pain at all. I had a treatment in the morning and played golf in the afternoon," Albulet says. "Everyone at the hospital was so caring. The only side effects I have are positive – I no longer have to get up at night, and all my parts are functioning perfectly!"