Cancer treatment has evolved in recent years to tap a number of cutting-edge technologies and procedures that go beyond — and often complement — robotic surgery. Southern California's world-class medical centers are at the forefront of the revolution.
The NeuroBlate MRI-guided 3-D laser system that targets brain tumors, soon to be introduced at City of Hope in Duarte. This neurosurgical ablation device provides controlled therapy for brain lesions that would otherwise be hard to reach and treat.
"This tool, developed by Monteris Medical, will allow us to introduce the probe into the tumor and destroy it without having to perform a surgical operation or craniotomy,"said Dr. Benham Badie, director of the Brain Tumor Program and Division of Neurosurgery at City of Hope.
Researchers at Cedars-Sinai have been working on an imaging device that illuminates malignant tumors using a special camera and an imaging agent based on protein found in the venom of the deathstalker scorpion. The protein is drawn directly to tumor cells and, when stimulated by a laser, emits a glow that's captured by the camera.
Skyline Urology — a group of 55 board-certified urologists practicing throughout Southern California — uses a new urine test called FISH (fluorescence in situ hybridization) that detects bladder cancer in its earliest stages, often before it can be seen on a scope exam or CT scan.
"It identifies abnormalities at the DNA level," said Dr. Alec Koo, managing partner of Skyline Urology, adding that FISH can detect cancer cells using florescent imaging with anywhere from 90% to 100% sensitivity.
UCLA's Department of Radiation Oncology recently introduced advanced Stereotactic Body Radiotherapy, a system that reduces and eradicates prostate tumors using targeted 3-D image-guided focal radiation, with minimal side effects and only five 15-minute sessions.
UCLA is also at the forefront of prostate tumor detection. In the past, numerous painful biopsies were often required to find a malignancy. But with UCLA's Artemis technology, the patient undergoes an MRI and the results are entered into the Artemis console, which locates tumors with unprecedented clarity.
"With the Artemis, we have a virtual map of the suspicious areas placed directly onto the ultrasound image during the biopsy," said Dr. Leonard S. Marks, a professor of urology and director of the UCLA Active Surveillance Program. "We're finding a lot of tumors that hadn't been found before using conventional biopsies."
Robert Meier, a 58-year-old from Visalia, enrolled in the Artemis study at UCLA after three biopsies came back negative despite climbing levels of prostate-specific antigen in his blood, a warning flag that often indicates prostate cancer. The Artemis device found the malignancy and his tumor was successfully removed.
— Robert Young