HELENA — According to the American Cancer Society, 1 in 8 men will develop prostate cancer in their lifetime, news that Helena resident Chuck Markusich had to stomach shortly before his 80th birthday.
“We did the biopsy, came back a week later and he informed me that there was a tumor and it was, it was malignant,” said Markusich.
Traditionally, in both recent and distant history treatment options would include internal or external radiation, chemotherapy, or active surveillance of the tumor.
“Then he mentioned the NanoKnife and that kind of intrigued me because it was a targeted process using an electrical pulse process to destroy the tumor itself without damaging any of the other surrounding structural materials,” said Markusich.
Dr. Tim Grossman has been a practicing urologist for over two decades with the bulk of his career coming in Helena and noted the technology used to treat Markusich’s tumor isn't exactly new, but is a giant step forward towards specific cases of prostate cancerNanoKnife treatment provides boost against prostate cancer in Montana
“Nanoknife is unique in that you can stereo tactically map out where in three-dimensional space prostate lesions reside, and then using a needle system effectively be able to circumscribe those areas and ultimately place a special form of electrical currents through the tumor,” said Grossman. “Nanoknife causes nanopore development, which are little micro-perforations in the cell membrane. And this in turn ablates or can remove the tissue with some very distinct advantages.”
In layman's terms, the procedure is in Grossman’s eyes one of the better ways to prevent prostate cancer from growing or spreading, but it’s not the end all, be all of the disease.
“If we look at intermediate risk cancers, again, sort of that gray zone, around 40-45% of those patients that follow up long enough, eventually will progress. More cancer will be found or a more lethal form of cancer will be formed will be found. And so this is the niche, this is where it fits in.”
According to Grossman, Markusich’s case is approximately the 80th to be treated using the NanoKnife and the technology is being rolled out regionally to hospitals and medical centers across the country.
However, if Markusich’s experience is any indicator of the future, the NanoKnife technology is here to stay.
“They tell me my expected life expectancy at this point is five to seven years. So if I was – if I hit five years, then I beat the life expectancy thing. If I hit seven years, probably – well then I’m good. But I don't know what would have happened if it had mutated and gone into the bone. I don't know where we'd have been with that.”