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The Baltimore-based Health Care Financing Administration (HCFA) extended new hope to men who have failed radiation treatment for prostate cancer with its recent decision to approve Medicare reimbursement of cryotherapy in these salvage patients.
"The HCFA decision further endorses cryosurgery as a valid, enduring method for treating men with prostate cancer," says Jim McGlone, president and chief executive officer of Galil Medical USA in Woburn, MA, developers of the SeedNet System, which delivers extremely low freezing temperatures to ablate the diseased prostate while avoiding damage to adjacent healthy tissue.
Freezing the prostate is the most feasible option if cancer recurs locally due to radiation or other treatment failures, according to a recent study in the journal Urology. An estimated 25% of patients who receive radiation therapy for prostate cancer will have local recurrence within 10 years. Cryosurgery is also an attractive option for prostate patients who, because of age or other health issues, cannot or do not wish to undergo surgical removal of the diseased prostate gland.
"We are very pleased by the HCFA action and their concern for a group of patients with very few treatment options," says Paul Mikus, chairman and chief executive officer of Endocare in Irvine, CA, which also manufactures cryosurgery technology. "Now, these men have another proven option after radiation therapy."
Each year, 30% of the roughly 180,000 men diagnosed with prostate cancer undergo radiation therapy as a primary treatment. Roughly 40%, or nearly 22,000, of these men have recurrence of the disease. For these men, secondary treatment with cryosurgery can stop the progression of the disease and improve long-term survival, according to the study published in Urology. In that study of men who were unsuccessfully treated with radiation therapy for prostate cancer, researchers found that 97% of men who received cryosurgery were disease-free two years later.
"Cryosurgery — both as a primary treatment and as a salvage treatment for men with recurring prostate cancer — can result in long-term cure rates and has very few complications," notes Aaron Katz, MD, assistant professor of urology at Columbia Presbyterian Medical Center of New York-Presbyterian Hospital in New York City. "Also, unlike other procedures, cryosurgery can be performed on older men or those who may have pre-existing health problems."
Information on cryosurgery can be found on the Galil Medical Web site at www.galilmedical. com and on the Endocare Web site at www. endocare.com.
[See also: de la Taille A, Hayek O, Benson MC, et al. Salvage cryotherapy for recurrent prostate cancer after radiation therapy: The Columbia experience. Urology 2000; 55(1):79-84.]