Saturday, July 7, 2018

High-intensity ultrasound as effective as surgery but with fewer side effects for prostate cancer

Image courtesy of SonaCare
CANCER DIGEST – July 7, 2018 – Using high-energy ultrasound to eradicate prostate cancer may be as effective as surgery or radiation, but with fewer side effects, researchers say.

In a new study of the treatment called high-intensity focused ultrasound (HIFU), researchers at the Imperial College London and University College London and four other hospitals in the UK tracked 625 men with early stage prostate cancer treated with HIFU for a median of nearly

five years.They found that 2 percent had the cancer spread to other parts of the body, none died of prostate cancer, and 1 percent died of other causes. The findings were published in the July 5, 2018 journal of European Urology.

The study led by Professor Hashim Ahmed also tracked side effects and found that at five years 2 percent had urine incontinence and 15 percent had erectile dysfunction. Those compare to surgery and radiation that range from 5 percent to 30 percent for urinary incontinence and 30 percent to 60 percent for erectile dysfunction. In addition radiation therapy can cause rectal side effects including bleeding, diarrhea and discomfort in 5 percent of patients.

HIFU is a newer treatment, performed under general anaesthetic, which delivers beams of high energy ultrasound directly into the prostate gland, via a probe inserted up the rectum. This allows a surgeon to precisely target tumour cells within the gland to millimetre accuracy, with less risk of damage to surrounding tissues. There are no needles or cuts to skin.

Noting that survival rates for prostate cancer are now very high, Professor Ahmed says the emphasis is shifting to side effects.

"We need to now focus on improving the quality of life for these men following treatment," Dr. Ahmed said in a press release. "This latest trial of focal HIFU – which is the largest and longest study of the treatment to date – suggests we may be able to tackle the cancer with fewer side effects."

The study was funded by Medical Research Council, and SonaCare Inc., makers of the Sonablate ultrasound device used in the study.

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