By Peter McLaren-Kennedy • 03 January 2022 • 11:11
A disease that affects one in six men in the UK could become less of a risk after NHS doctors performed a one-hour operation that could cure prostate cancer. The game changing operation uses electric currents to tackle difficult to reach tumours.
Doctors say that the pioneering treatment could offer hope to thousands of men diagnosed with an illness that affects 50,000 men each year.
Until now treatments generally involved surgery or radiotherapy. Both of these methods are neither 100 per cent effective nor without their distressing side effects. The new therapy referred to as Nanoknife by surgeons used to treat patients at University College London Hospital (UCLH) was amazingly quick and simple.
Charities involved in cancer research have said the treatment could help more than 20,000 men a year who are diagnosed with localised illness that could be treated by more targeted treatments.
It is hope that the method formally known as irreversible electroporation, will help to deal with the backlog of patients needing treatment. Cancer diagnosis in the UK having fallen by more than a quarter during the pandemic suggesting there are around 15,000 “missing” cases.
The new method involved administering quick electrical pulses into the tumour, breaking the cells open. The method comes with few side-effects and it is hoped no long term effects such as those that come with standard prostate cancer treatment methods.
Prof Mark Emberton a leading Consultant Urologist said: “This offers us a new class of therapy. It’s a completely new way of destroying cells. The beauty of it is that it’s such a simple technique to train surgeons in. That makes it a game-changer.”
According to Prof Emberton there are other focused therapies that include the freezing technique cryotherapy and focused ultrasound, however they are only available in major specialist centres.
Continuing he said: “At the moment you can only get focal therapies in a few centres in the south of England, which is terrible. round a third of men with prostate cancer could benefit from some type of focal therapy, but only a tiny fraction of them even get a discussion about it.”
Prof Emberton hopes the ease of this method will see a rapid uptake in hospitals, adding: “It’s an amazing treatment, so quick, and it means we can reach tumours that are beyond where the knife can reach.”
The treatment does not require patients to stay in hospital and because it takes less than an hour, the number of procedures that can be carried is more than double. That means freeing up valuable surgery space as well as being able to deal with the backlog.
Alistair Grey, the Consultant Urologist who led the first operations, said: “What is very exciting about this treatment is its precision in targeting and attacking the cancerous cells without damaging healthy tissue, and maintaining the prostate’s important functions.”
Perhaps most importantly is that the one-hour operation which could cure prostate cancer does not damage other cells and therefore minimises the risks associated with an operation of this type.
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Originally from South Africa, Peter is based on the Costa Blanca and is a web reporter for the Euro Weekly News covering international and Spanish national news.
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