Researchers have developed a new treatment for prostate cancer that could have far fewer side effects than current therapies for this type of cancer.
Prostate cancer is the second most common cancer in Irish men, after skin cancer. Every year, about 2,500 new cases of prostate cancer are diagnosed in this country.
A new study carried out in 41 patients indicates that targeted ultrasound treatment could reduce the risk of impotence and incontinence often associated with existing prostate cancer therapies.
Usual treatment for prostate cancer with surgery or radiotherapy can harm tissue surrounding the prostate gland, with a serious risk of side-effects, including urinary incontinence and erectile dysfunction.
Doctors at University College Hospital in London carried out a trial using a technique called high-intensity focused ultrasound, which is aimed at small areas in which there were cancer cells on the prostate.
The doctors said the results a year after treatment were very encouraging.
The ultrasound technique involves the use of of a probe placed close to the prostate, which sends out soundwaves that heat the cancer cells, while causing minimal damage to surrounding tissue.
The researchers said further trials will provide a clearer picture of whether this ultrasound therapy can control prostate cancer over a long period while minimising side effects.
The study was published in the journal Lancet Oncology