September is National Prostate Cancer Awareness month. One in eight men will develop prostate cancer in their lifetime, and 35,000 men will die this year from it.
For many men, it is treatable cancer if caught early with a blood screening test called a PSA test, followed by a biopsy. Now, there’s a new device and technique that makes biopsy safer and easier to recover from.
There’s not much that can keep Rick Bartlett out of the saddle of his bike. He rides around 5,000 miles a year.
As a retired U.S. Coast Guard and Maryland State Police helicopter pilot, health and fitness have always been important. But in 2016, a yearly check of his PSA levels showed they were elevated.
“I came back a year later, and now, it had bumped over 4.0 to 4.3,” Bartlett said.
Urologist Matthew Allaway, DO, at Urology Associates, determined Bartlett needed a biopsy to see if cancer was developing. Standard biopsies access the prostate through the rectum, so patients need to take antibiotics to lower the risk of infection. Plus, there’s not a lot of room to angle the biopsy needle for the 10 to 12 samples doctors must take.
“In order to get to areas where we knew cancer was hiding was very tricky to do. Those two problems led me to think, there’s gotta be a better solution. And the answer is to go through the perineum,” Dr. Allaway explains.
Dr. Allaway developed a new device called the Precision Point. With this method, the biopsy needle passes through the skin in the perineum – near the rectum – it only requires two needle sticks, so it’s less painful for the patient.
Bartlett says, “I think two or three days later, I got back on the bike and did a nice, easy ride. Felt virtually no pain.”
After robotic laparoscopic surgery to remove the cancer, Bartlett is now cancer-free.
The Precision Point device is FDA approved, and Dr. Allaway holds six patents on the technology and the method of testing. He says nearly 500 urologists across the United States have now been trained to use the device.