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Nurse talking to patient about irreversible electroporation ablation

Prostate cancer is the most common cancer among men in the United States. The current standard of care involves surgically removing the prostate (radical prostatectomy) or treating the entire organ with radiation therapy. While effective for addressing the cancer, these treatments can cause disruptive side effects, such as urinary incontinence and erectile dysfunction (ED).

In some cases, focal therapy may be a less aggressive alternative to surgery and radiation therapy, particularly for addressing small tumors confined to one area of the prostate. This emerging treatment option is FDA-approved for surgical ablation of soft tissue.

What is irreversible electroporation (IRE) ablation?

A form of focal therapy, irreversible electroporation ablation is a novel, image-guided technique that can target known areas of cancer within the prostate while preserving the surrounding tissues. The goal is to control the cancer while minimizing any side effects of treatment.

More specifically, IRE is a minimally invasive outpatient procedure that aims to destroy cancerous cells by applying pulses of electrical energy through thin, needle-like electrodes placed in the targeted tissue. These short, high-voltage electrical pulses create nanopores in the cell membranes, causing irreversible damage and leading to cell death without exposing the prostate to radiation or heat.

Irreversible electroporation ablation can precisely target and destroy small prostate tumors that are visible with real-time magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). Because the treatment focuses on just one small area of the prostate rather than the entire organ, the risk of side effects is greatly reduced.

How effective is irreversible electroporation ablation?

Studies performed to date have shown that less than 10% of patients experience a prostate cancer recurrence after IRE. However, while the short-term data is promising, long-term data is not yet available. Through ongoing research, scientists continue to explore the effectiveness of irreversible electroporation ablation for the treatment of prostate cancer.

Benefit from world-class care at Moffitt Cancer Center

Moffitt's advanced Genitourinary Oncology Program offers all-encompassing services ranging from traditional surgery and radiation therapy to groundbreaking nuclear medicine and compassionate supportive care. With a direct line of communication between each subspecialty, we provide our patients with comprehensive care without the need for multiple specialist referrals.

Our team specializes in complex prostate cancer treatments, such as robotic-assisted and organ-preserving surgeries, and our surgeons perform a significant number of these procedures each year, resulting in an unparalleled level of expertise. Through our robust clinical trials program, our patients also have early access to promising new therapies, such as immunotherapy, which are not yet available elsewhere.

If you would like to learn more about irreversible electroporation ablation for prostate cancer, you can request an appointment with a specialist in our Urologic Oncology Program by calling 1-888-663-3488  or submitting a new patient registration form online. We do not require referrals.