Researchers discovered a potential new treatment option for patients with early-stage prostate cancer.

According to the American Cancer Society, prostate cancer is the second-most common cancer in American men and the second leading cause of cancer death among this group. About 1 in 7 men will be diagnosed with the disease during their lifetime, at an average age of 66 years old.

At the moment, patients who develop early stage organ confined tumors can be treated with a focal therapy, such as cryotherapy or radiotherapy.

This recent study addressed the current inadequacy of long-term treatment for prostate cancer. Unfortunately, around 1/3 of patients will experience recurrence of their disease following radiotherapy.

The rapidly advancing field of low-temperature atmospheric pressure plasmas has shown considerable promise for future translational biomedical applications.

Low-temperature plasmas are created when high electric field is applied across a gas via an electrode. As the plasma is formed, a reactive environment is formed that contains high concentrations of reactive oxygen and nitrogen species.

The plasmas then transfer reactive oxygen and nitrogen species to a target, which leads to oxidative damage and cell death. This differs from the kind cause by other forms of therapy.

Other therapies cause apoptosis, which prompt cells to die through natural mechanisms.

Researchers used tissue samples from a single patient in order to take both healthy prostate cells and prostate cancer cells, which allows for direct comparison of the effectiveness of the treatment.

The research found that low-temperature plasmas induce high levels of DNA damage, which led ultimately to necrotic cell death.

In addition to being effective at kill cancer cells, the use of low-temperature plasmas could also be a more cost-effective way of treating organ-confined prostate cancer in comparison with current forms of radiotherapy and photodynamic therapy.

Gerry Oginski
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