A prostate cancer treatment which is rarely offered on the NHS may give patients a 97% chance of survival after five years, a landmark study has suggested.
The so-called “male lumpectomy” treatment works by treating just the prostate cancer tumour with High Intensity Focused Ultrasound (HIFU).
It is said to have “significantly fewer side effects” than traditional treatments and delivers high rates of cancer control.
Prostate cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer in men, the second most common cause of cancer-related death in the US and the third most common cause in Europe.
While already cleared by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), HIFU treatment is only available in very few centres in the NHS.
Cancer expert and consultant urological surgeon Mr Hashim Ahmed of Nuada Urology presented the results of the largest ever HIFU study at the European Association of Urology annual meeting in Munich on Monday.
Ahmed, who is also affiliated with University College Hospital, said the study demonstrated for the first time that the survival rate was 97% at five years after receiving the treatment.
“These are groundbreaking findings,” he said.
“It’s the biggest study ever of its type and has shown that metastases-free survival at five years was 97% and up to 93% of men avoided having traditional surgery or radiotherapy and their side-effects.”
Focal therapy using High Intensity Focused Ultrasound (HIFU) uses accurate and concentrated sound waves to kill tumours by heating them to temperatures approaching boiling point.
In this study, it was used in the treatment of prostate cancer that had not spread to other areas of the body.
The study showed that men who had focal HIFU treatment had a very low risk of urine leakage (only 1-2%) and low rates of erectile dysfunction (15% or less).
Traditional surgery or radiotherapy, which treat the whole prostate and not just the tumours, usually have high levels of urinary incontinence (10-20%) and erectile dysfunction (50%).
Radiotherapy can also lead to back passage problems such as bleeding, pain and diarrhoea (5%).
HIFU has previously also been used to treat benign and malignant lesions in the uterus, brain, kidney and liver.
Ahmed said: “Today’s findings demonstrate conclusively the longer term benefits of focal therapy with HIFU and could change the treatment of prostate cancer forever.”