Louisville doctor is first in U.S. to use ultrasound treatment to treat early prostate cancer; procedure ‘has its critics as well as its fans’

Dr. John Jurige with his device. (C-J photo by Matt Stone)
A Louisville urologist is the first in the nation to use ultrasound to treat prostate cancer, a procedure that recently received federal approval but still “has its critics as well as its fans,” Darla Carter reports for The Courier-Journal.

“Dr. John Jurige, a longtime local urologist, is treating patients with
Sonablate, a device that uses high-intensity ultrasound waves to destroy
cancerous prostate tissue,” Carter writes. “The outpatient procedure is typically for
men with stage 1 or 2 prostate cancer that hasn’t spread and who meet
certain other criteria, such as having a relatively small prostate.”

Jurige said he has used the treatment on about 400 patients outside the U.S. in the last eight years, and those “who did, in fact, have early stage prostate cancer have done extremely
well,” he said.

“But some physicians say the high-intensity focused ultrasound (HIFU)
procedure isn’t necessarily right for the men it’s being pitched to
and that it’s important for patients to consider all of their options
and to, perhaps, seek a second opinion,” Carter reports. Dr. Jamie Messer, a urologic oncologist at Louisville’s James Graham Brown Cancer Center, told her, “The patients that are really candidates for HIFU for prostate cancer are patients that may be best served with active surveillance,” or close monitoring.

“The type of prostate cancer that HIFU seems to be most effective for is
the type of prostate cancer that patients may live for decades with,
without any negative consequences, meaning no metastasis (spread) of
their cancer, no symptoms from their cancer,” Messer said. “This is the
patient we often refer to that will die with their prostate cancer, not
from their prostate cancer.”

Carter reports, “Patients turn to the $25,000 procedure not only to eradicate their
cancer but to try to avoid unwanted consequences, such as erectile
dysfunction and bladder-control issues, that people associate with
prostate cancer treatment.” Her story includes quotes from satisfied patients.

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