On May 4, 2024 I was honored to represent HALO Precision Diagnostics at the American Urological Association (AUA) annual meeting in San Antonio, Texas. HALO, formerly Desert Medical Imaging, has been at the forefront of developing focal laser therapy as a less invasive treatment for prostate cancer. 

At this year’s conference, focal therapy was openly embraced by industry, patients, urologists and radiologists. For the first time, many other focal therapy clinicians and scientists also presented their work. While numerous topics presented at the podium and in poster sessions  addressed traditional surgical techniques, focal therapy has definitely emerged as a promising alternative to whole gland therapies like prostatectomy and radiation. 

Focal laser therapy targets cancer lesions without harming surrounding structures which was challenging until MRI became a standardized technology  accepted across the medical community. Our team has participated in many product development projects, and has served on national and international committees to help standardize prostate MRI and foster broader acceptance. Once MRI was established, biopsy using MRI guidance could be performed in a more targeted fashion. Those biopsy specimens could then be sent for pathologist evaluation,  genomic testing and other prognostic measures. 

This change in approach to using MRI guided biopsy has taken us away from radical treatments that may leave men impotent or incontinent. True focal therapy can now be administered under MRI guidance with precision and safety. Our results presented at the meeting showed equivalent cancer outcomes when comparing focal therapy to standard-of-care treatments, yet with minimal urologic and sexual side effects.

At the conference, it was a privilege to also participate in the inaugural Women in Focal Therapy luncheon where internationally recognized female experts in focal therapy convened to discuss our research, our outcomes and our patient voices away from the podium. As a clinician scientist, it’s very important to me that the voice of the patient be heard. I currently chair The Focal Therapy Society patient advocacy committee and have a patient advisory council that provides feedback on the issues that matter to them.

After our decades of work, it was exciting and refreshing to see focal therapy take center stage at the AUA. I look forward to our team’s continued contribution to a body of evidence that will make focal therapy a less invasive, first line treatment for prostate cancer patients to avoid the urologic and sexual side effects of whole gland treatment. 

Bernadette M. Greenwood is chief research officer for HALO Precision Diagnostics in Indian Wells and a PhD candidate at Radboud Institute of Health Sciences. She can be reached at [email protected]. To learn more about their research program, visit www.HALODx.com.

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