First analysis of the long-term results with transrectal HIFU in patients with localized prostate cancer (European Journal of Urology online).

Prostate cancer experts say high intensity focussed ultrasound (HIFU) is an effective treatment option for men with prostate cancer, according to new research published this month in the European Journal of Urology online.

Experts from France and Germany studied the results of 140 people with prostate cancer over an eight year period and published their findings in the EJU.

They found that HIFU treatment resulted in negative biopsies in almost nine out of ten (86 per cent) patients, and after five years men's PSA levels were low and stable in eight out of ten (77 per cent) cases, indicating a high treatment success rate.

The researchers followed all the patients for at least five years and concluded that HIFU is effective in treating prostate cancer where the cancer has not spread outside the prostate, and that HIFU is a valid alternative to radiotherapy. The results are likely to put pressure on the National Institute for Clinical Excellence, which is considering reducing the status of HIFU to clinical trials only.

Prostate cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer in men and kills around 10,000 men a year in the UK. HIFU is a minimally-invasive treatment for localised prostate cancer in which precisely targeted ultrasound waves are focused within the prostate and instantly destroy cancerous cells. The treatment lasts one to three hours and, unlike surgery or radiation therapy, can be repeated if necessary.

Today's results show that HIFU is not only an effective treatment option for prostate cancer, but that the side-effects such as incontinence and impotence are milder than those of other treatments.

HIFU has been available on the NHS since it received NICE approval in 2005. However, in new draft guidance on prostate cancer NICE is considering reversing its earlier position and limiting the use of HIFU to clinical trials only. Today's study indicates that HIFU should be a generally accepted form of treatment for prostate cancer.

Study co-author and leading prostate cancer expert Dr Andreas Blana, said:

"This study is the first of its kind in examining the long-term results of HIFU treatment. This innovative and revolutionary treatment clearly has the capacity to help men with prostate cancer all around the world. Indeed, I would say it is an ideal treatment option for men with localised prostate cancer and it should be part of a doctor's armoury when treating the disease."

Notes:

1. First analysis of the long-term results with transrectal HIFU in patients with localized prostate cancer (European Journal of Urology online) can be downloaded from here.

2. Since 2004, over 700 patients in England have had HIFU treatment at over 33 sites, including in the NHS. Worldwide, over 15,000 HIFU treatments have taken place for prostate cancer.

3. PSA is prostate specific antigen, a protein produced by prostate cancer cells. While raised PSA levels do not necessarily mean there is prostate cancer, it is a reliable indicator for the disease.

4. In its 2005 guidance for prostate cancer NICE stated that HIFU is safe enough and works well enough for use in the NHS. The current draft NICE guidelines on prostate cancer state that HIFU is not recommended for men with prostate cancer other than in the context of clinical trials.

European Urology

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