Prostate cancer- surgery alternative

Prostate cancer- surgery alternative

A ’breakthrough’ in prostate cancer - six years late!

Almost six years after CANCERactive told you the benefits of HiFU  High Intensity Focussed Ultrasound - as an alternative to surgery in cancers confined within the prostate, the therapy is making front page headlines in British Papers. Typically, the Telegraph called it a ’Breakthrough in treatment of Prostate cancer’. Even five years ago, this alternative therapy was available in over 60 centres in Europe, but not in the UK. Originally we were contacted in a letter by seven top European Urologists who asked for coverage of this important treatment. They openly stated their fears that its usage would be blocked because it was so effective it could result in far less surgery, radiotherapy and drugs being used - and millions of pounds of drug sales being ’lost’.

The treatment uses a special form of ultrasound to heat the tumour. The treatment thus involves hyperthermia, one of the few effects known to kill cancer cells totally while leaving healthy cells relatively unscathed. Localised hyperthermia is often refered to as Ablatherm, or Ablation.

The procedure usually involves a hospital stay of three days at most. Patients have reported to CANCERactive that their treatment privately cost less than 3000 euros. We had no one report side effects to us other than some burning sensation in a few cases. The original claims for the treatment were that it had over 87 per cent 5-year survival rates, compared with a UK norm at the time (according to Eurocare 3) of about 54 per cent. The beauty of the treatment is that it just melts the cancer away, liquefying the tumour. It may be repeated at a later stage if required, unlike radiotherapy, for example. Moreover, side effects like impotence or incontenence are greatly reduced.

SurgeryRegular readers may remember that we have long cautioned against the rush to have prostate cancer treatment to cut out the cancer and use radiotherapy. We were joined in this opinion a few years ago by both Memorial Sloan-Kettering in New York, and The Royal Marsden in the UK. Both have stated now that the vast majority of prostate cancers are slow growing and at least 50 per cent require no immediate treatment and should simply be carefully monitored (’active surveillance’ is the term used). Sadly, from personal experience with three friends recently, all were rushed into an operation as the doctors were uncertain if the cancer had spread or not. This argument actually defies logic. If it hasn’t spread, wait or use HiFU. If it has, how will cutting it out stop the spread?

The recent cause for the breakthrough claim comes from Cancer Research UK, where HiFU is in clinical trials involving 172 men at the University College Hospital and the private Princess Grace Hospital in London. Less than one per cent of the men treated with HiFU suffered incontinence, none had bowel problems although the research claims that 35 per cent had impotence, a figure that clashes with the work shown to us 6 years ago, where only 12-15 per cent had such problems.

ultrasoundOf men treated with surgery and radiotherapy at a similar stage up to 20 per cent suffer incontinence, and around 50 per cent impotence. It should be noted that NICE has yet to approve the research and pass the treatment for NHS usage. Even then, as with kidney cancer where HiFU is occasionally used in the UK, it is another thing getting the doctors to use the therapy rather than traditional surgery, for which they are trained and have long term medical data to support their approach.

On this web site we have reported a number of cases where ’alternative’ doctors in Australia and the UK have been using hyperthermia with success. It is hardly a new treatment and has been used with success with several solid tumour cancers.

We also report on the dietary therapy of Professor Ben Pfeifer which has supporting clinical trials in Switzerland and is an alternative to hormone treatment in advanced prostate cancers. No doubt it will be a few years yet before clinical trials in the UK are presented. Meanwhile patients can again go to Europe privately for treatment.

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