A new non-surgical treatment for early stage prostate cancer presents a “truly huge leap forward” as it has been shown to effectively kill cancer cells while preserving healthy tissue.
The study reports that trials on 413 men across Europe caused 49% of patients to go into complete remission, and only 6% needed to have their prostate removed.
This was compared to 30% of those men in the control group who went on to have it removed.
Prostate cancer is the most common cancer in men in the UK, according to the NHS, and over 40,000 new cases are diagnosed every year.
Current treatments, such as radiotherapy and surgery, regularly cause lifelong incontinence and 90% of men who undergo treatment struggle with erectile problems.
Because of the risky side effects, many men with stage one prostate cancer opt for active surveillance or the “wait and see” method.
But the new therapy is “excellent news” as the impact on sexual activity and urination lasted no more than three months.
And after two years there were no side lasting side effects.
The treatment involves injecting a light-sensitive drug, made with bacteria from the sea floor.
This bacteria, which turns toxic when exposed to light, is injected into the patient’s bloodstream and then activated it with a laser, inserted in the perineum.
Professor Emberton, from the National Institute for Health said: “The fact that the treatment was performed so successfully by non-specialist centres in various health systems is really remarkable.”
“With such an approach we should be able to achieve a significantly higher remission rate than in the trial and send nearly all low-risk localised prostate cancers into remission.”
If the trials continue to be successful, the treatment should be translatable to other solid cancers including breast and liver cancer, according to the team.