Sounding-out ways to beat prostate side-effects

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Sounding-out ways to beat prostate side-effects

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Doctors in the UK say a new treatment for prostate cancer, using ultrasound, could leave patients suffering far-fewer side-effects than existing therapies.

They have conducted a trial to show that a high-powered beam of ultrasound can destroy tumour cells without damaging delicate surrounding tissues, including nerves critical for male sexual function.

Surgery or radiotherapy leaves half of sufferers impotent, and 20 percent of them incontinent. The side effects are so common that many men with slow-growing tumours are advised not to have conventional treatment.

The Director of the Institute of Urology at University College Hospital in London, Professor Mark Emberton explained: “I think this is a big revolution in prostate cancer, I think it’s as big as the transition from mastectomy – removing the breast in breast cancer – to lumpectomy and I think this is the beginning of a big story. The technology will get better and better, our ability to direct energy will become more and more precise.”

The procedure is called High Intensity Focused Ultrasound (Hifu) and it is used to destroy tumours in what they called the “male lumpectomy”. There is no incision, so there’s very little recovery time. Patients can walk out of hospital the same day.

Richard Williams had the new treatment. The two small tumours in his prostate have gone, and he has not suffering the unwanted results often associated with conventional therapies.

“I thought it was the easiest thing ever,” Williams said, “Far less trouble than having a tooth filled and I haven’t had any pain anywhere.”

Of the 41 men taking part in the trial, none was left incontinent, and only 10 percent suffered impotence, according to results published in the medical journal, Lancet Oncology.

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