A groundbreaking trial is now underway at University Hospitals in Cleveland, and it could change the future of prostate cancer treatment.
The idea was born back in 2004. Finally, after getting the patents, the funding and a willing patient, that idea is now reality. Corrina Pysa met with the first man in the world to go through this treatment and has his story.
Marvin Gossett was first diagnosed with early-stage prostate cancer about seven months ago.
"When you hear the "c" word, you've got cancer, it kind of scares you," he shared.
He was referred to Dr. Rodney Ellis, Radiation Oncologist at UH Seidman Cancer Center, who told him about a clinical trial he could be a part of.
"First reaction, any time I hear clinical trial is, I feel like you're kind of a test subject, and I don't like that," Gossett explained. "So when Dr. Ellis called me, my first reaction was, yeah.. I'll listen while you talk here, but my answer's going to be no."
But 24 hours later, he was sold.
"I mean, there's pretty bad side-effects with the whole-gland treatments that traditional methods use, and I said, you know, I don't see any negative to this, so I agreed to do it."
"Traditionally, when you treat prostate cancer, you treat the whole prostate gland," added Dr. Ellis. "And that can damage the surrounding structures, including the bladder and the rectum. It can cause decreases in quality of life, both from sexual function and urinary and rectal function. And so, patients are a little bit hesitant to want to be treated for prostate cancer."
Minimizing side effects – by targeting treatment to just the areas of the prostate affected by cancer, rather than the whole gland – is the whole idea behind this stereotactic body radiotherapy (SBRT).
"We're treating everything that we believe could be cancer, combining both the imaging that we're able to do, and biopsies to prove that the image is accurate and that we're not missing cancer at the edge, so that we're more confident that we've treated the patient appropriately, but not over-treating the area that's involved," noted Dr. Ellis.
And after three sessions over the course of one week, that goal was achieved in Gossett.
"Rang the bell and you know.. you kind of feel good about ringing the bell, because it means you don't have to come here again."
He says it is like nothing happened, and that he had no side effects.
"If it turns out all of this works out fantastic," Gossett said. "It will be like wow, I was the first patient treated with that. It would be kind of an honor, in a way.
As part of the trial, UH will continue monitoring Gossett. It will be finished in about two years, with 12 patients treated and followed, hoping to prove the treatment is effective.
While it is still about 10 to 15 years away from being offered nationwide as a standard treatment, Dr. Ellis said UH is still looking for trial participants. Contact them if you or someone you know is interested.