Scientists believe that men suffering from prostate cancer may find a ray of hope in ultrasound, which could be an effective cure for the cancer sans side effects.
Surgeons have said that the high-powered beam of ultrasound is so precise that it obliterates tumours without damaging delicate surrounding tissues, including the nerves that are critical for male sexual function.
AdvertisementConventional surgery or radiotherapy leaves half of men impotent and a fifth incontinent, due to which, men with slow growing tumours are advised to leave their cancers untreated and instead go for regular monitoring.
However, after going through a new trial of the ultrasound treatment, none of the first 18 men were found to have had incontinence, while only one has had significant impotence.
Richard Hindley, consultant surgeon at the North Hampshire Hospital in Basingstoke, described the technique as a "no-brainer".
"For some men the thought of being monitored doesn't rest easy and there is always the concern that their cancer will progress and need more radical treatment," Sky News quoted him as saying.
He added: "Furthermore the radical treatments we have come with a significant risk of collateral damage "
The hospital is conducting a trial of High Intensity Focused Ultrasound (HIFU), with University College Hospital in London, in which surgeons use a highly focused beam of ultrasound to target prostate tumours with pinpoint accuracy.
A three second burst of energy vaporises an area smaller than a grain of rice.
The treatment is so precise that surgeons call it the male lumpectomy, which works without damaging healthy tissue, including the urine tube that runs through the middle of the prostate, and nearby nerves that control erections.
John Neate, chief executive of the Prostate Cancer Charity, said that the technique gives hope to men told that it's too risky to remove their tumour.
However, he said that it was still early to claim that the treatment is safe and effective.