From Medical Correspondent Jeff Levine
WASHINGTON (CNN) -- A federal advisory panel is recommending a new treatment using microwave energy to shrink an enlarged prostate. The device apparently cooks away excess tissue that causes painful and embarrassing symptoms.
The $400,000 device is called the Prostatron and it may the wave of the future for prostate enlargement treatment.
Tests on some 400 patients show that more than half of them got relief from their symptoms in a matter of weeks. Dr. Simon Cart of Charing Cross Hospital said the Prostatron gives patients an alternative treatment that can last up to four years, maybe longer.
A tube is inserted into the patient's penis and passed up to the area where urine is obstructed. A microwave probe is turned on for about an hour at a temperature of around 120 degrees. Meanwhile, a monitoring device in the rectum makes sure delicate tissues aren't overheated.
More than half of men older than 60 suffer from enlargement of the prostate (43K diagram). As the gland swells, it pushes against the tube that carries urine. That makes urination a problem.
Drugs to treat the condition, called BPH, aren't terribly effective.
Surgery can unblock the channel, but it's painful and the side effects can hinder a man's sex life.
The hope is that the Prostatron will be a better alternative for many men. "Each year in the United States, approximately 220,000 men undergo transurethral bisection of the prostate gland," says Dr. Joseph Oesterling, University of Michigan. "Many of these individuals would now be candidates for this new technology."
In recommending approval of the device, the 10-member panel noted that it isn't a cure-all and that additional study is needed. "My concern is that there might be an attempt to oversell the device directly to the public and say, 'Hey, this is the greatest thing since sliced bread,'" says Dr. Patrick Hunter of the University of Florida. "It's an improvement and it will benefit some patients."
The Prostatron has been in use in Europe for about five years. And tens of thousands of patients have been treated with it. Now, it's up to the FDA to bring it to United States.
Copyright © 1995 Cable News Network, Inc.
ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.
External sites are not necessarily endorsed by CNN Interactive.