Blasting prostate cancer with sound waves eliminates tumours

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Blasting prostate cancer with sound waves eliminates tumours in nearly two thirds of patients, a study suggests.

The technique - which uses precise pulses of ultrasound to attack tumours in a session lasting less than an hour - could mean many men avoid surgery.

Researchers from the University of California at Los Angeles, who tested the technology on 115 men with prostate cancer, saw tumours destroyed in 80 per cent of men they treated.

And 65 per cent of patients were still clear of cancer a year later. Some 47,000 men each year develop prostate cancer in the UK.

The technique - which uses precise pulses of ultrasound to attack tumours in a session lasting less than an hour - could mean many men avoid surgery

The technique - which uses precise pulses of ultrasound to attack tumours in a session lasting less than an hour - could mean many men avoid surgery

The Daily Mail is campaigning for an urgent improvement of prostate cancer treatments and diagnosis, which are lagging years behind other diseases such as breast cancer.

Despite rapid advances in other cancer types, which have resulted in falling death rates, the number of men who die from prostate cancer is still going up, with 11,800 men in Britain lost each year to the disease.

And of those who do survive, many are left with severe side effects as a result of surgery, including incontinence and impotence.

The new treatment, called MRI-guided transurethral ultrasound ablation - or TULSA - comes with few of those side effects, the researchers said.

TULSA works by delivering precise doses of sound waves to diseased prostate tissue while sparing surrounding healthy nerve tissue.

It works using on a rod-shaped device, inserted into the urethra, which sends out sound waves from 10 ultrasound-generating elements.

The elements are controlled automatically by a software algorithm that can adjust the shape, direction and strength of the therapeutic ultrasound beam.

The procedure takes place in an MRI scanner so that doctors can closely monitor treatment and assess the degree and location of heating.

Research leader Professor Steven Raman said: 'Unlike with other ultrasound systems on the market, you can monitor the ultrasound ablation process in real time and get immediate MRI feedback of the thermal dose and efficacy.

'It's an outpatient procedure with minimal recovery time.'

The treatment, which took an average of 51 minutes, saw prostate volume decreased on average from 39 cubic centimeters 3.8 cubic centimeters a year after treatment.

Blood levels of 'prostate-specific antigen', or PSA, a marker of prostate cancer, fell by an average of 95 per cent.

There were low rates of severe toxicity and no bowel complications.

'We saw very good results in the patients, with a dramatic reduction of over 90 per cent in prostate volume and low rates of impotence with almost no incontinence,' Professor Raman said.

The device, which is already approved for clinical use in Europe, is an advance on another technique that has been used on the NHS for several years called 'HIFU', or high-intensity focused ultrasound.

TULSA could also be used to treat men with non-cancerous enlarged prostate - a condition known as benign

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