Surgeons use sound wave technique to treat prostate cancer

Tim DudderidgePioneering experts at Southampton’s university hospitals are using a revolutionary new sound wave technique to treat prostate cancer – without the need for surgery.

Tim Dudderidge, a consultant urological surgeon at Southampton General Hospital, is among a small group of clinicians in the UK now performing High Intensity Focused Ultrasound (HIFU) routinely on NHS patients. 

The procedure, which sees patients leave hospital the same day, allows surgeons to focus high frequency sound waves directly onto tumours in the prostate gland without affecting healthy surrounding tissue.

Although conventional treatments such as invasive surgery to remove the whole prostate or radiotherapy can effectively treat tumours, patients often suffer side effects such as incontinence or impotence.

In a study published in the journal Lancet Oncology in 2012, surgeons at University College London Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust (UCLH) performed HIFU on 41 men and found 95% were free of cancer after 12 months, none were incontinent and only one in ten suffered impotence.

Prostate cancer mainly affects men over 50 and is the most common type of cancer in men, with around 37,000 new cases diagnosed in the UK every year.

Mr Dudderidge, who was part of the study team at UCLH and one of the first in the UK to use the technique, said: “The launch of this service is fantastic news for NHS patients from across the south of England and means we now are one of the few centres in the region to offer the full range of surgical and oncological therapies for men suffering from prostate cancer.

“This technique is truly revolutionary in that it acts in such a targeted way, where we are able to focus sound waves of up to 80c heat on areas the size of a grain of rice.

“Early study data has shown the treatment to be very effective at treating tumours while also minimising damage to surrounding tissue and, as a result, reducing the risk of serious side effects such as impotence and incontinence.”

Mr Dudderidge, who will perform the first four cases of HIFU at Southampton General Hospital today (Monday, 3 March), has developed the service with the support of UCLH’s Professor Mark Emberton and his team, who are currently leading a large national HIFU study.

He added: “Patients who undergo HIFU in Southampton will play a big part in further rollout of the procedure nationwide as they will be added to the national registry, which monitors all outcomes, and I am hopeful we will soon become another trial centre in partnership with UCLH.”

Posted on Monday 3 March 2014