LOS ANGELES (KABC) --A new procedure that offers prostate cancer patients a non-surgery alternative can be a game changer in treating the disease.
Urologist Dr. Inderbir Gill with Keck Medicine of USC helped pioneer the non-invasive treatment for prostate cancer called high intensity focused ultrasound, or HIFU.
"I was offered this procedure because of my health conditions," said Thomas Lechuga, who was diagnosed with prostate cancer.
Lechuga already had a triple bypass. So recovering from another surgery would not be easy. Gill recommended he undergo the new procedure.
"It's non-invasive, non-surgical, no radiation, no blood loss, get off the table, go home, very quick recovery," Gill explained.
After taking detailed images, surgeons determine where the most aggressive cancer is located in the prostate. Then, without destroying any tissue or surrounding nerves, a highly focused beam targets and kills the tumor.
"It absolutely destroys it with heat," Gill said.
Conventional treatment normally involves removing the entire prostate because there can be numerous tumors in varying size. However, Gill says new research reveals doctors don't always have to remove all of the tumors, especially the small ones.
"HIFU allows you to treat in a targeted manner, only the cancer bearing aspect and do active surveillance of the remainder of the gland to make sure everything stays in check," Gill said.
The thought is that targeting only the largest and most troublesome tumor will turn the disease from something high to low risk. And just as important - preserving a patient's potency and continence with little or no recovery time at all.
"When I left the hospital, I felt great. I ate good and everything else. No problem," Lechuga said.
Lechuga will be watched closely. For now, doctors say he has little to worry about, especially since he is not experiencing any side effects.
"Those are durable benefits, and if you can achieve all this and get the cancer taken care of, what's not to love?" Gill said.