Doctors at NYU Langone Medical Center are experimenting with light as they look toward a new, noninvasive way to treat and prevent prostate cancer. NY1's Kafi Drexel filed the following report.

When 67-year-old Charles Kessler learned he had early stage prostate cancer he opted for a surgery he thought would have the least side effects.

"I could have just watched it, but why have biopsies all the time and be worried? This just seemed like an easy thing to do," Kessler said.

He decided to enroll in a study currently underway at NYU Langone Medical Center's Smilow Comprehensive Cancer Prostate Center. The study involves using photodynamic light therapy in surgery to kill cancer early on. NYU is the lead institution on the study of 30 men across the country whose results will be followed up on for a year.

"The basic concept is that we take a drug that sensitizes the body to light and we infuse it in the patient's vein. When it circulates throughout the body wherever the body's tissues meet with the light it will create energy that will destroy the tissue," said Dr. Samir Taneja of NYU Langone Medical Center.

Like other procedures that have been developed, Dr. Taneja says that photodynamic therapy could be yet another way of working to minimize the difficult side effects associated with treatment for prostate cancer.

The surgery is also a form of focal therapy where an energy source is used only to destroy part of the prostate rather than the whole thing to clear the cancer.

"I think focal therapy offers us a great bridge between the idea of doing nothing or surveillance and the idea of treating," Taneja said. "If we can find cancers very early in men who are young enough that we believe that cancer might harm them then destruction of just an area of the prostate might be enough to reverse the effects of the disease without inducing a lot of sexual, urinary side effects."

While doctors say photodynamic therapy already appears to be showing promise, it may be several years before it clears FDA approval to become widely available beyond trials.



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