For many men who receive a diagnosis of prostate cancer, life expectancy rates mean there is the potential to survive for more than five years with the disease. But receiving radiotherapy treatment to tackle cancer leaves some men with debilitating side effects that greatly affect their quality of life.
Urethral stricture disease (USD) occurs in a small but significant number of prostate cancer cases whereby a stricture develops in the urethra, making it difficult to pass urine. This can, in turn, lead to recurrent urinary tract infections, bladder stones, prostatitis and, in severe cases, atonic bladder and renal failure.
More men are living with urethral stricture disease (USD)
With our ageing population, that means that more and more men who have survived prostate cancer due to early diagnosis and treatment are faced with living with the complications of this disease for many years. Further to that, it's a condition that some men find difficult to speak about, feeling a sense of shame about potential sexual issues and embarrassing leakage that can result from the disease. Adding to this stress, radiotherapy associated USD has traditionally been difficult to treat, with many patients left with no alternative but the use of external urine drainage bags, severely impacting everyday life.
Epworth specialists create a new urethra grown from a patient's own tissue
Now, a revolutionary new procedure available for the first time in Australia is offering hope to men with USD.
Urologist Mr Justin Chee and plastic surgeon Dr Ajay Chauhan of MURAC Health have pioneered a groundbreaking surgical technique using a urethra grown from the patient's very own cheek lining. The new urethra is transferred from the forearm to the perineum using microsurgery and is regarded as a less invasive surgical intervention than is typical when operating within this hard-to-access area.
The world-first surgery has been successfully performed on four catheter-dependent patients overseas, treated over a timeframe of one to two years from first consult to final follow-up, with a success rate of 100%. In Australia, three Epworth Freemasons patients are currently being qualified to receive treatment. MURAC in conjunction with Epworth Freemasons is the only clinic worldwide to provide this treatment.
This life-changing technique promises sufferers of USD complex the freedom of normal penile functionality, a boost to self-esteem and much-improved quality of life for years to come.