Some men with early-stage prostate cancer have a new option for treatment—focal therapy, a targeted treatment option that destroys areas of cancer in the prostate while sparing rest of the healthy tissue. Tulane Health System is the only system offering this treatment in the greater New Orleans region.

Previously, men with localized prostate cancer had to choose between active surveillance—essentially keeping an eye on the cancer to see if it got worse—and aggressive treatments like traditional surgery or radiation, with high risks for urinary incontinence and erectile dysfunction. With focal therapy, the cancer can potentially be targeted and treated more effectively in a minimal or non-invasive fashion, similar to a lumpectomy to treat breast cancer.

Focal therapy involves the use of groundbreaking new prostate MRI technology as a guidance tool to pinpoint the cancer. Once we’ve localized the cancer, we utilize specialized equipment to destroy it by either burning it using focused ultrasound (HIFU) or freezing the cancer (cryotherapy). By focusing our energy on the cancer and not the rest of the prostate, we're able to preserve the structures next to the prostate that are important for urinary and sexual function. The goal of focal therapy is to ablate, or destroy, small tumors within the prostate, while leaving the remainder of the gland intact.

Tulane Health System is advancing the science of focal therapy by enrolling patients in clinical trials so lessons learned from our focal ablative expertise can be translated to procedures that are even more precise in the future. Real-time assessment of the tumor at the time of ablation is being evaluated here with technology created at Tulane, and these learnings are being incorporated into care for patients around the world.

Potential benefits of focal therapy

  • Lower risk for side effects—such as urinary incontinence, impotence and irritative bowel function—compared to other prostate cancer treatments

  • Minimally invasive, outpatient procedure

  • Can be repeated in the future, if necessary

  • Doesn't limit the option to have radiation therapy or surgical treatment at a later time

  • Quick recovery

Focal therapy may not be the best course of treatment for all cases, but it is just one of several treatment options available throughout Tulane Health System. If you'd like to learn more about all Tulane Health System prostate cancer treatment options, please contact the Tulane Multidisciplinary Prostate Cancer Clinic at (504) 988-2342.

If you are experiencing any symptoms of prostate cancer, or if you have any prostate cancer risk factors and would like to be screened, please contact the Tulane Urology Clinic at (504) 988-5271.