Oncologists regularly zap cancer tumors using versions of “ablation” therapy, which inserts probes into a tumor to either freeze it to death or to use radio waves or ultrasound to burn it up.
Those treatments avoid full-scale surgery and minimize pain and recovery time.
However, they can damage surrounding tissues and blood vessels and may not kill all the cancer cells.
Now something called irreversible electroporation—or “the nanoknife,” which is easier—creates no peripheral damage and, in early use, has shown to be at least as effective as heat and cold treatments.
The process inserts two to six needle-like nanoprobes, steered using scanning imagery, into the edges of a tumor.
When the probes are in place, a generator sends an electric current through them that creates a powerful magnetic field.
The field pulses 10,000 times a second, which damages the cancer cells’ membranes so extensively that the cells have no way to repair them and the cells die.
The pulses are contained within the area between the probes, virtually eliminating damage to nearby healthy organs and tissues.
In a small test of the nanoknife’s effectiveness on pancreatic cancer—one of the most deadly—the treatment doubled patients’ survival time compared to standard radiation and chemotherapy treatment.
In a test using the nanoknife to treat 265 men with prostate cancer, only 13 patients saw their cancer recur, and 10 of them had the most aggressive form of the disease when they were treated.
Most of the prostate cancer patients treated with the nanoknife were up and walking the same day, the researchers reported.
Importantly, the process left the men with no “dribbling” trouble if they weren’t dribbling before the procedure.
Also, while removing the prostate to treat cancer leaves three of four patients impotent, only 2 percent of patients in the study experienced the problem long-term.
TRENDPOST: Nanoknife treatment for malignant tumors is likely to be well on its way to replacing current hot-and-cold procedures within five years.