A 'perfect' prostate cancer therapy
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Researchers at University College London used intensive ultrasound to produce the "perfect" outcome for patients with the most common cancer in men.
The treatment can be completed during a one-off visit to hospital, with patients walking out within hours, compared with the long stays on wards associated with radiotherapy and surgery.
The ability of the ultrasound therapy to destroy tumours while avoiding side effects made it twice as effective as traditional methods, researchers said.
The treatment is expected to be approved as safe and effective next week by the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (Nice), which will say that further trials should go ahead before it is approved for use on the NHS.
Scientists said the treatment could be used routinely within five years.
Researchers, who were funded by the Medical Research Council, described clinical trials as "very encouraging" and said they offered hope to the 37,000 people diagnosed with prostate cancer every year. More than 10,000 men die annually from the disease.
If caught early enough, radiotherapy and surgery can stop the spread of prostate cancer, but the side effects severely damage the quality of life of the patient.
Of the men given the traditional treatments, up to 20 per cent suffer incontinence and half experience impotence. Radiotherapy also causes other side effects in up to one in five patients, including pain and bleeding.
The new technique, High Intensity Focused Ultrasound (Hifu), focuses powerful soundwaves on an area about a 10th of an inch across. It effectively boils cancerous cells to death, killing tumours, and does far less damage to surrounding tissue, minimising side effects.
In the study by University College London, published
in Lancet Oncology,
"We're optimistic that men diagnosed with prostate cancer may soon be able to undergo a day case surgical procedure, which can be safely repeated once or twice, to treat their condition with very few side effects.
"That could mean a significant improvement in their quality of life."
Dr Ahmed said he expected other doctors to consider using the treatment after the Nice guidance is issued next week.
He added: "These results will encourage more physicians to look at it more carefully. If men are interested in this concept they should speak to their cancer doctor or their GP. The next step is a large scale randomised controlled trial. This needs to be evaluated in a timely way so men can benefit."
Prof Gillies McKenna, the director of the Medical Research Council and the Cancer Research UK Gray Institute for Radiation Oncology and Biology, said: "If these promising results can be confirmed in a randomised controlled trial, focal therapy could soon become a reasonable treatment choice for prostate cancer alongside other proven effective therapies."
The research was funded by the MRC, the Pelican Cancer Foundation and St Peter's Trust. Jacqui Graves, the interim head of health care at Macmillan Cancer Support, said: "Significant reduction in the likelihood of common side effects, such as incontinence, will enable men to recover better and go on to lead good quality lives. We hope that a larger trial will be supported to ensure that the UK achieves the best outcomes for men affected by prostate cancer."
Owen Sharp, the chief executive of the Prostate
Cancer Charity, said: "We
( Courtesy: http://www.dnaindia.com/ )