Dr John Kowalczyk discusses prostate cancer and the cryoablation therapy technique
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Prostate cancer is a disease of the prostate gland. It affects males. Males are the only sex that have prostate glands. The prostate gland, basically, has normal cells as we develop, and then sometimes, these little cells start to go undergo an abnormal change. They start to become what we call cancerous. They don't follow the normal pattern of what a cell should do. They start to grow out of control. The symptoms of prostate cancer are in many ways, undetectable. The best chances, in the most hopeful findings, are to have no symptoms. But when a person starts to develop symptoms, some of symptoms can include blood in the urine, they can actually mimic what we call BPH or Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia, because as these abnormal cancerous cells grow, they will also increase the size of the prostate gland and may restrict the flow of urine. Once the cancerous cells start to break through and start to go to other parts of the body, they can affect other organs, such as the bones and the lymph glands. When you start to have cancerous cells spreading to the bone, a person can actually experience the symptoms of bone pain. If they start to go to lymph nodes, these lymph nodes can actually swell and they can prevent the normal, back and forth flow of the fluid, and thus they can get some swelling in their legs, their thighs, and even in their genitals. So those are some of the more advanced symptoms of prostate cancer; any male over the age 50 should be checked on at least a yearly basis. Those people who have higher risk factors for developing prostate cancer should actually be checked earlier and more frequently. Some of the risk factors include people who have a family history of prostate cancer, whether it be a father, an uncle, a brother, some close relative. If they have an African-American heritage, and if they have Scandinavian heritage, and if you have one of these risk factors, I'd actually have you go and see your doctor in your 40s, and do that at least once a year. Again, if you have frequent or if you have these risk factors, see your doctor more frequently, twice a year, three times a year, whatever you feel comfortable with. When we diagnose a person with prostate cancer, basically, it's done by finger examination of their prostate gland through the rectum, and/or with the blood test called the PSA, meaning Prostate Specific Antigen. There is a lot of controversy over this blood test, but number one, let me emphasis by saying, it is right now the only blood test that we have, that is effective in helping us screen. It is not a diagnostic tool that tells you, you have or don't have prostate cancer, it only tells you if you're at risk of having it. Cryoablation therapy is a procedure where under a spinal anesthetic or a general anesthetic, the individuals actually placed in a position where we have the exposure to an area we call the perineum, that area is right underneath the testicles and right above the anus. What we do is we insert needles under an ultrasound guided process. So it's very specific and it's very targeted and these needles are then left in the body while you're under the anesthetic, and it's brought to a temperature that causes freezing of the cells. There are two types of freezing, what we know of is when you place a burger or a hotdog or something in the freezer, this tissue, this meat will actually freeze, but the way that freezes, it freezes from the outside of the cells. What cryoablation does, it delivers through special gases, a really high form of a freezing potential where the cells start to freeze from the inside out. By freezing the cell from the inside out, which is what happens in frostbite, the actual cell will die. So this is how we're able to treat prostate cancer. In a way it's treating or removing part of the prostate if not all, by causing it to die from the inside out without having to actually make any incisions. The freezing process roughly takes two hours and most people actually
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