Cancer Ablation by Water Vapor
Thermal water vapor energy technology is a breakthrough therapy designed to use phase shift energy, stored in sterile water vapor, to convectively transfer thermal energy to cancerous tissue, causing cell death. Through this process, damage to surrounding structures is minimized or eliminated by respecting the natural boundaries of the prostate.
The outcome will be a revolutionary cancer therapy that is tough on cancer but gentle on patients.
Phase Shift Energy in Water Vapor Technology
Cancer ablation by water vapor utilizes the vast amount of energy generated when liquid water changes to water vapor (steam).
As water converts to vapor or steam at ~100°C an exponential phase shift occurs, with the resulting water vapor carrying more than 5x the energy of water of the same mass.
When the vapor is delivered to the targeted tissue, the stored thermal energy is released onto the cancerous cells as the vapor is condensing back to its liquid state. This energy transfer causes immediate disruption (ablation) of the cellular membrane, ultimately leading to cell death.
Water Vapor Technology
Convection vs. Conduction:
Most of today’s ablative technologies utilize thermal energy emanating from a single point that is either hot or cold. The thermal energy then transfers from cell to cell (conduction) and gradually gets cooler (or warmer) the further you get from the source. This results in heating (or cooling) that is uneven and can be difficult to control.
Water vapor technology behaves very differently. When administered under pressure, the vapor moves through the interstitial space between the cells (convection) in a few seconds. The energy is evenly distributed throughout the vaporized area and ablates uniformly as the vapor condenses back into water.
Videos representing the difference between the conductive and convective transfers of thermal energy:
Respecting Natural Boundaries
The prostate, a walnut sized gland located between the bladder and the penis just in front of the rectum, is encased within fibromuscular layers of cells called the prostate capsule. Within the prostate are areas (zones) separated by what are commonly referred to as pseudocapsules.
Traditional prostate cancer therapies can result in erectile dysfunction or incontinence by damaging nerves or other tissue outside the prostate.1 In contrast, water vapor technology is uniquely designed to work inside the walls of the prostate, with the intent of minimizing or eliminating thermal damage to the nerves and surrounding prostate tissue.
A distinction between thermal water vapor and other ablative technologies: when vapor is released within one of the prostate zones it intends to “respect” the prostate capsule and pseudocapsule boundaries by staying within the zone it was released.
This ability to stay within the zone of application is critical when ablating prostate cancer because it will prevent the vapor’s ablative energy from escaping outside of the prostate.
By staying inside the targeted zone, the outcome should be a reduction in the incidences of erectile dysfunction or incontinence, commonly experienced with traditional prostate cancer therapies.
Types of Cancer to be Treated
Water vapor technology is showing promise for several types of cancer.
In the Unites States, prostate cancer is one of the most common cancers in men. The American Cancer Society estimates there will be 174,650 new cases and 31,620 deaths due to prostate cancer in 2019 in the United States alone.1
Prostate cancer ranks as the second leading cause of cancer death in American men. Currently, there are nearly 3.1 million American men living with the disease.2
In 77.2% of prostate cancer diagnoses, the disease is confined to the prostate gland (clinically localized). The 5-year survival for localized prostate cancer is 100%.3
Although opinions may differ, it is feasible that many men with clinically-localized prostate cancer and their physicians would prefer a less invasive, localized cancer treatment versus the traditional approach of removing (radical prostatectomy) or using radiation therapy on the entire prostate.
According to the Kidney Cancer Association, in 2019 about 66,340 people in the United States will be diagnosed with kidney cancer and 14,970 will die from the disease.1
Kidney cancer is very uncommon in people younger than age 45, and the average age of kidney cancer diagnosis is 64. Symptoms of kidney cancer may include blood in the urine, an abdominal mass, and back or flank pain.2
Early detection can improve the prognosis. Treatment for kidney cancer varies depending on whether the cancer has metastasized (spread) or is localized to the kidney. Kidney cancer is most often treated with surgery, targeted therapy, immunotherapy, or a combination of these treatments. Radiation therapy and chemotherapy are occasionally used.3
It is estimated there will be 80,470 new cases of bladder cancer (about 61,700 men and 18,770 women) in the US in 2019. Overall, the chance men will develop this cancer during their life is about 1 in 27 (making it the fourth most common cancer in men). For women, the chance is about 1 in 89.
About half of all bladder cancers are first found when the cancer is still located only within the inner layer of the bladder wall. About 1 in 3 bladder cancers have spread into deeper layers, yet remain only in the bladder.
As with most types of cancer the risk of bladder cancer increases with age, the average age of bladder cancer diagnosis is 73.
Standard treatment options for bladder cancer include surgery, radiation therapy, chemotherapy, and immunotherapy. The type of treatment chosen can vary depending on the specific type and stage of the cancer.
*Device is not commercially available and is currently being studied under an Investigational Device Exemption (IDE).
Expanding Treatment Options
“We foresee this technology as a true minimally invasive breakthrough that will improve quality of life and expand the cancer treatment options available today for patients suffering from prostate, bladder and kidney cancers.”
MICHAEL HOEY, FOUNDER AND CHIEF TECHNOLOGY OFFICER