Ultrasound Breakthrough Offers New Hope for Prostate Cancer SufferersA new research carried out by a group of British scientists, presented a possibility for a new treatment for men with early prostate cancer.

The new therapy is called high-intensity focused ultrasound (HIFU) and kills cancer cells by heating them up, without harming other tissue such as the nearby nerves needed for sexual function.

Instead of putting patients through surgery or radiotherapy, which damage healthy cells around the gland, scientists propose “melting” the tumours. Since HIFU focuses on very small areas where the tumours are situated, it is expected that because treatment will be more localised, side effects will lessen.

The research also showed that there were relatively low rates of urinary incompetence and erection dysfunction when following the treatment.

As the NHS informs, the research was carried out by Dr. Hashim Ahmed and colleagues from University College London and was funded by Prostate Research Campaign UK and Prostate Cancer Research Centre UK. The study was published in the peer-reviewed British Journal of Cancer.

The case reported on 172 men, average age 64 years, who received HIFU at two London centres between February 2005 and May 2007. The men had already rejected surveillance and were either unable or did not wish to undergo surgery or radiotherapy.

Case series have produced reasonably favourable outcomes following HIFU treatment. This minimally invasive technique is an alternative for men who would otherwise only have the options of radial treatment, along with its associated risks and adverse effects, or watchful waiting.

The researchers concluded that in the short-term, good outcomes can be achieved following HIFU, with reasonably low levels of erection dysfunction and urinary incompetence. However, longer-term outcomes still need to be assessed.

Lead researcher Dr Hashim Ahmed, of University College London, said: “Men are being diagnosed earlier with prostate cancer because of increasing awareness with many patients in their fifties and sixties now”.

He continues: “This study suggests it's possible HIFU may one day play a role in treating men with early prostate cancer with fewer side effects”.

Professor Peter Johnson, chief clinician at Cancer Research UK commented about the research: “This technique needs careful evaluation to make sure that it can produce the same results as the proven treatments for early prostate cancer”.

He also underlined that: “If the treatment can be shown to have fewer side effects then that will be excellent news, but more research is needed to show this”.

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