Reducing the side effects of Prostate cancer surgery


Ultrasound - A Real ’Breakthrough’ In Prostate Cancer Treatment

In  issue 1 2005 of icon we briefly covered the news of this ’breakthrough’ therapy. Life moves on apace. On March 18th in an Istanbul conference, the European Association of Urology (EAU) launched a ’club’ of top Urologists across Europe to support and develop this highly promising, non-invasive treatment.

To date over 7,000 patients have been successfully treated using this therapy, in France, Germany, Italy, Belgium, Russia, Switzerland and now the UK.

The therapy involves the use of High Intensity Focussed Ultrasound (HIFU) and is called Ablatherm.

The treatment lasts for about one and a half hours with patients being admitted the night before and leaving hospital two to three days later.

An endorectal probe is introduced while the patient is under general or spinal anaesthesia. Ultrasound scanning is used to locate the exact area of infection and then high intensity focussed ultrasound transmissions are applied to raise the temperature of the localised area to 85o to 100oC. This induces necrosis of the affected prostate tissue. Reports suggested that the tumour and infected cells liquefy. The treatment is a precise local treatment, involving in just one session and is minimally invasive with no side effects. Only a few complications have been reported to date and patient recovery time is short.

Furthermore the treatment can be used selectively on certain areas and may be repeated. To date it has been used on patients for whom surgery was not an option, or those where radiotherapy had failed and recurrence had occurred.

"HIFU Technology for the treatment of prostate cancer is very promising, as is demonstrated by the high rate of success that we experienced in Munich", stated Dr Stefan Thuroff of the Krankenhaus Munchen Harlaching. That success is a staggering 87 per cent without relapse at five years.

Another positive of the treatment is that nadir PSA is reached after only 3 months and so success is more quickly established.

FDA approval has been sought and the UK’s National Institute for Clinical Excellence (NICE) published guidelines on April 1st 2005 for its usage in the UK.

While 63 centres are working with thetherapy across Europe, the main centre in the UK is Stepping Hill Hospital, Stockport, where work only started one year ago. The Consultant Urologist is Stephen Brown.

(Ed: We are totally supportive of this work, and especially of the ’club’ formed because a core group of scientists were concerned that this cheap, non-invasive and non-toxic therapy might simply be ignored. With European 5 year survival rates at 44 per cent, this therapy is essential).

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