New cancer treatment available for first time

  • cancer
  • James Douglas

IT is a revolutionary treatment that up until now had only been available to private patients in Southampton.

But today, for the first time, NHS patients in the city will be treated with an innovative therapy that can transform the life of those fighting prostate cancer and avoid the need for invasive surgery.

From targeting only cancerous cells in the prostate gland, to offering men a much quicker recovery – High Intensity Focused Ultrasound (HIFU) has been hailed a major step forward in fighting the disease.

The procedure, which sees patients leave hospital the same day, allows surgeons to focus high frequency beam of ultrasound wave directly on to tumours in the prostate gland without affecting healthy surrounding tissue.

Although conventional treatments such as invasive surgery to remove the whole prostate or radiotherapy can effectively treat tumours, patients often suffer side effects such as incontinence or impotence.

And unlike radiation, HIFU uses clean energy, so the procedure can be repeated, if necessary, without damaging healthy tissue.

In a study published in the journal Lancet Oncology in 2012, surgeons at University College London Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust performed HIFU on 41 men and found 95 per cent were free of cancer after 12 months, none were incontinent and only one in ten suffered impotence.