Improving quality of life for patients with prostate cancer

An innovative new treatment is improving the quality of life for patients with prostate cancer

Hesham Ahmed, prostate cancer

In a world first, patients at Imperial Private Healthcare are able to access a new prostate cancer treatment which delivers outstanding results without the side effects traditionally associated with surgery or radiotherapy.

Patients can now be treated with high–intensity focused ultrasound (HIFU), a process which takes just an hour and a half to complete.

HIFU delivers beams of high-energy ultrasound directly to the prostate, while the patient is under general anaesthetic. This technique allows consultants to precisely target tumour cells within the gland to within one millimetre of accuracy.

Conversely, surgery involves removing the entire gland and radiotherapy delivers radiation to the entire prostate. This can cause damage to surrounding tissues like nerves, muscles and the bladder, which can lead to unpleasant side effects.

Fewer side effects

All treatment options have extremely high success rates with between 90 and 100 per cent of patients remaining cancer free within five years. However, with surgery or radiotherapy between 30 and 60 per cent of patients can suffer erectile dysfunction after treatment. After HUFU only 15 per cent of patients had the same concerns. Likewise, the likelihood of urinary incontinence dropped from between five and 30 per cent to just two per cent with HIFU treatment.

The treatment was developed as a result of a coordinated research programme from a number of institutions including Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust, Imperial College London and University College London. The research project tracked 625 men with prostate cancer.

Consultant Professor Hashim Ahmed, who led the research, said: ‘Although prostate cancer survival rates are now very good, the side effects of surgery or radiotherapy can be life-changing.

‘Some patients are left requiring multiple incontinence pads every day or with severe erectile dysfunction. This latest treatment means we can tackle the cancer with fewer side effects.’

For further information on our cancer service, please visit the cancer section of our website.