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More on prostate cancer.

Although preliminary studies on the use of taxol in treating prostate cancer are underway, the early results of another nonsurgical procedure, used recently on patients with early prostate cancer, appear promising.

Doctors at the University of Maryland studied 11 patients whose prostate cancer had not spread to other parts of the body. With the patient under anesthesia, 7-inch-long needles were used to implant 40 to 70 tiny "seeds" of radioactive iodine directly into the cancerous tissue. First employed only a year ago, the treatment has resulted in a 30 percent or more reduction in the size of the prostate (already swollen by the tumor) among the first six patients in the study. The process of killing the cancer cells and converting the excess prostate tissue to scar tissue will continue for 6 to 12 months. As a result, doctors can avoid the need for surgery to remove the cancer and relieve urinary obstruction.

Dr. Stephen Jacobs, head of the urology division at the university, describes the procedure as the treatment of choice for men 65 or older whose physical condition proscribes major surgery, if the cancer has not spread from the prostate. He estimates that as many as 12,000 men in the United States could benefit from it. Meanwhile, all men over 50 are urged not only to have a rectal examination of the prostate each year, but also to undergo a blood test for PSA (prostate-specific antigen). The latter is employed to establish a baseline against which possible future elevation can be evaluated.
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Publication:Medical Update
Date:Aug 1, 1991
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