Prostate cancer: Revolutionary treatment blasts cancer cells new lifeline for millions

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Paul Sayer, founder of the charity Prost8, is fighting to improve access to high-intensity focused ultrasound (HIFU) for early-stage disease.

He said: “People don’t realise that there are other forms of non-invasive treatment out there that can help you live longer and better following a prostate cancer diagnosis.

“I went in as a day case, had the treatment over an hour-and-a-half, came out with a catheter which was soon removed and that was it.

“I have just had my three-year check-up and it’s totally clear. This treatment allowed me to still be me.”

Invasive treatments for prostate cancer can lead to distressing side effects such as urinary and erectile dysfunction.

HIFU is a form of focal therapy which uses highly focused beams of ultrasound to target tumour cells while sparing as much healthy tissue as possible.

A 10-year study found focal therapy can control cancer just as well as radical surgery but crucially has better lifestyle outcomes.

Professor Hashim Ahmed, chair of urology at Imperial College London who led the research, said it was a huge breakthrough.

He said: “The treatment, which could be available for nearly 12,000 men diagnosed each year with intermediate grade cancer that has not spread outside of the prostate gland, is showing excellent outcomes for cancer control with better quality of life.

“The few hospitals currently offering this treatment can’t cope – we need more hospitals, we need more surgeons, we need more capacity.”

Professor Ahmed said private options are available but costs £12,000-£16,000 per patient.

HIFU is currently only available at three NHS hospitals but six more are keen to host units.

Paul founded Prost8 after receiving HIFU three years ago and is now calling on the public to help raise the cash needed to open facilities in Wrexham, Norwich, Norfolk, Scotland and London, and improve an existing unit in Southampton.

The charity’s One in Eight campaign wants one in eight of the UK’s adult male population to donate £1 to raise the £3million needed to fund the new units.

The figure represents the one in eight men who will be diagnosed with prostate cancer in their lifetime.

Paul added: “I have conversations with guys where I’m in tears and they’re in tears – these are tough conversations, and they need to know there’s a great option available to them.

“The campaign is a very low ask to achieve such an important change and create a lasting legacy.”

Grant Gooding found out about HIFU online after asking for treatment recommendations.

He was diagnosed with prostate cancer in 2018 and was only told about surgery, radiotherapy and active surveillance – a ‘watch and wait’ approach.

Grant, 61, said: “I put on social media about my diagnosis and asked if anyone had any recommendations over treatment.

“I began talking to lots of different men about the options and was surprised by how many had had it and their wide variety of experiences. I was also introduced to Paul at the Prost8 charity.”

Grant, who worked as an analyst in London, compiled a spreadsheet of treatment options.

He said: “HIFU seems to be the better treatment really because of the side effects.”

Prost8 helped the father-of-one to access the treatment in September last year. He now supports the campaign to help other men benefit.

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