A five-year early-stage study of high-intensity focused ultrasound resulted in tumour progression being halted in men with intermediate-risk, localised prostate cancer. But more evidence is needed to prove its benefits hold up against existing treatment options and for all men with the disease.
The largest study so far of the focal therapy known as HIFU (or high-intensity focused ultrasound) has published some encouraging results.
Carried out by Professor Hash Ahmed from Imperial, London, at six hospitals across the UK, the early-stage study tracked 625 men with localised, intermediate-risk prostate cancer who received the treatment. The technique targets tumours using a beam of ultrasound energy from a probe put into the man's rectum, while aiming to leave healthy tissue unscathed.
After five years, 88% of the men on the trial hadn’t experienced any prostate cancer progression. But more evidence is needed to know for certain if HIFU is more clinically effective than radical surgery in the long-term or if it definitely results in fewer side effects, like urinary incontinence and erectile dysfunction. While for men with a lower-risk prostate cancer, active surveillance offers a way to avoid any side effects from treatment at all.
Prostate Cancer UK is committed to funding further research in this area to provide the answers we need
"Men diagnosed with intermediate risk prostate cancer that has not spread are most commonly offered surgery or radiotherapy," says Heather Blake, our director of support and influencing.
"These results suggest that HIFU, which is currently only available through clinical trials or in specialist centres, could offer an additional treatment option for this particular group of men, with the potential for them to experience fewer side effects.
"However, it’s important to be able to directly compare this treatment to the other options available so that men and their clinicians can make an informed decision about which treatment is best for them. Prostate Cancer UK is committed to funding further research in this area to provide the answers we need."