Breakthrough Treatment for Most Common Ailment in Men Over 50 is Safe and Effective, Weill Cornell Study Shows

New Laser Procedure Significantly Reduces Symptoms of Enlargement of the Prostate

May 14, 2003

New York, NY

A breakthrough new laser procedure is a safe and effective treatment for the most common ailment experienced by men over the age of 50, Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia (BPH) or enlargement of the prostate. Almost half of all men over 50 experience some symptoms related to BPH, a condition where the prostate increases in size, gradually pinching the urethra, leading to a host of uncomfortable and painful symptoms.

As one of six clinical research study sites, and the only site in the New York City metropolitan area, the Weill Cornell Brady Prostate Center investigated the new procedure, Photoselective Vaporization of the Prostate (PVP), finding significant and immediate reduction in symptoms (23.9 percent to 2.6 percent) and prostate volume (55.1g to 30.3g) with all patients discharged within 23 hours without significant complications. The study's findings were presented at the recent American Urological Association meeting in Chicago.

The first significant advance in the treatment of BPH in fifty years, this new laser technique greatly decreases the risk of serious complications from the surgery, and allows patients to be immediately free of symptoms and quickly return to work, said Dr. Alexis E. Te, the study's lead investigator. Dr. Te is an Associate Professor of Urology at Weill Cornell Medical College, and Director of the Brady Prostate Center at Weill Cornell Medical Center at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital. Unlike previous technological attempts at laser prostate surgery, the new laser procedure truly removes prostate tissue with little bleeding, resulting in faster recovery and better early results.

PVP makes use of a high-powered laser to vaporize the prostate tissue, clearing up any obstruction with minimal blood loss. Depending on the size of the enlarged prostate gland, the procedure lasts from 20 to 50 minutes, and can be performed under local anesthetic on an outpatient basis. The traditional treatment option, transurethral resection of the prostate (TURP), a more invasive procedure, requires three to five days of hospitalization and can lead to more serious complications such as bleeding, urinary incontinence and impotence. More than 40,000 TURPs are performed each year, and it is the second most common operation performed on American men over 60.

While the exact cause of BPH is still unknown, it is thought to be a natural part of the aging process in men, and thus, a very common condition. According to the American Urological Association, BPH affects more than 50 million men in the United States. Men over 50 have a 50 percent chance of having BPH, while men over 80 have a 90 percent chance of having the condition. Current estimates show approximately two million men currently receive treatment for BPH.

Symptoms of BPH vary from man to man, and worsen over time as the prostate gland continues to enlarge. As the size of the gland increases, it squeezes the urethra, causing a multitude of urinary problems, and if left untreated, can cause bladder infections, bladder stones, and, in rare cases, kidney damage.

Upon diagnosis of BPH, men typically undergo a period of watchful waiting, as the urologist tracks the increasing size of the prostate, and monitors the severity of the symptoms. Medications are usually the first line of proactive treatment, even though they are only successful in 60 percent of the cases.

Not all men are candidates for the PVP laser technique as the size and condition of the prostate as well as severity of disease are key determinants, says Dr. Te.

The study was funded by Laserscope of San Jose, CA, makers of the Niagara PV™ Surgical Laser System, which is used for PVP.