A new procedure to treat prostate cancer has improved the quality of life for many men facing surgery for the disease.
Focal laser ablation therapy (FLA) was developed at Princess Margaret Hospital by doctors Uri Lindner, a urologic oncology fellow from Israel, and John Trachtenberg.
FLA is considered the middle ground between radical surgery and active surveillance. By targeting only the tumour, focal therapy offers effective treatment without the lifestyle-altering side effects of radical, whole-gland removal.
Lindner said that because of PSA, the screening test for prostate cancer, the disease is now being diagnosed in more and more younger men. “Whereas as it used to be only older men, now men in their 40s and 50s are being diagnosed.”
With FLA, “we are mitigating the side effects of prostate surgery, including erectile dysfunction and incontinence,” he said.
“We used to [routinely] remove the prostate, and it is a tough surgery. Recovery is not that easy, and the majority of men suffer side effects.”
The new procedure is done in day surgery, and within a few days patients are up and fully active, he said.
Lindner, the son of a urologist, was born in Israel in 1973, and graduated from the Tel Aviv University’s Sackler faculty of medicine. He served as a physician in the Israel Defence Forces.
In an interview just before he returned to Israel, he said he specialized in urology because it is “fast becoming one of the pillars of medicine. [A large portion of the population] is made up of older gentlemen, and most have urological problems.”
During his training, he said, he was approached by a scientist who developed a drug to treat prostate cancer and told him he might benefit from a research stint in Toronto.
He came with his family in 2008 and worked with Trachtenberg to develop the procedure.
Now that the procedure has been pioneered here and accepted as treatment, he is returning to Israel “to set up shop. It is time to give back. The Canadian government, and members of the Toronto Jewish community supported us and put money into our research, and now I’d like to advance the field in Israel.”
Lindner said he believes this procedure is the way of the future and will be used in other types of cancer. “We are moving toward a less invasive, image-guiding treatment.”
His family and friends are in Israel, so he’s glad to return, “but I regard Toronto as my second home. How do I know I feel at home? When my plane lands here, I feel a sense of coming back, rather than coming for a visit. People here are my second family,” he said.
“I will always have a warm place in my heart for Canada. What I learned and developed here is going forward in Israel.”