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Prostate cancer laser therapy leaves no sign of disease in 50% of patients

21 December 2016 10:04

More than 46,000 men in the UK are diagnosed with prostate cancer each year

More than 46,000 men in the UK are diagnosed with prostate cancer each year

A new laser cancer treatment has been hailed as "remarkable" after leaving 50% of patients with no signs of disease.

A drug, activated by laser light, successfully destroys early prostate cancer while avoiding side effects that commonly occur with surgery, trial results have shown.

Of 196 men who received the treatment, about half showed no signs of the disease two years later, compared with 13.5% of those given standard care.

Avoids side effects

Because VTP only targets prostate tumours, it does not cause the long-term problems of impotence and urinary incontinence often associated with "radical" surgery or radiotherapy.

Currently, men with low-risk localised prostate cancer are put under "active surveillance", which means monitoring the disease but providing no treatment unless it becomes more severe.

Lead investigator Professor Mark Emberton, consultant urologist at University College Hospital, said: "In prostate cancer, we are still commonly removing or irradiating the whole prostate, so the success of this new tissue-preserving treatment is welcome news indeed."

He added "The fact that the treatment was performed so successfully by non-specialist centres in various health systems is really remarkable.

"New procedures are generally associated with a learning curve, but the lack of complications in the trial suggests that the treatment protocol is safe, efficient and relatively easy to scale up.

"We would also expect the treatment to be far more precise if we repeated it today, as technology has come a long way since the study began in 2011.

Technology could be used to fight other cancers

Prostate cancer can now be pinpointed using MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) scans and targeted biopsies, allowing a much more targeted approach to diagnosis and treatment.

It is thought that VTP could also be effective against other types of cancer such as breast and liver cancer.

Each year, more than 46,000 men in the UK are diagnosed with prostate cancer. You can arrange travel insurance if you're planning a holiday and suffer from the condition.