Senior author and prostate cancer surgeon Mr Matt Winkler of Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust said, “So far, evidence to support widespread use of focal therapy was rather limited. However, having diligently collecting data over the last 10–years, we can now for the first time provide comparative evidence of equivalent cancer control rates for 5 to 8 years. While our method does not provide the highest level of evidence, a randomised controlled trial, it is as good as it gets at this point in time.”
Mr Winkler added, “As a prostate cancer surgeon I know far too well the devastating impact of erectile dysfunction or urine incontinence on the lives of many men after prostate cancer surgery.
We are proud to provide colleagues and affected men with information that may make it easier to avoid radical prostate removal or radiotherapy.”
Professor Ahmed, one of the UK’s most authoritative prostate cancer experts, said “We know that about 1 in 3 patients who have radical surgery for prostate cancer regret their decision afterwards. Often this is due to not being fully informed of options that carry fewer side-effects.”
“Our study has shown that focal therapy carries up to 10-fold reductions in urine leak and sexual problems. Importantly, for the first time we have shown that it has similar cancer control to radical prostatectomy, at 5-8 years after treatment.” He added “Whilst focal therapy is not suitable for all patients, there are thousands every year who are suitable and they should be fully informed about it.”
This study may provide highly welcome news for men with prostate cancer, but the challenge now is to get the equipment to provide focal therapy out into the NHS to provide access for every man who chooses this option. A charity set up specifically to provide this, Prost8 UK, is launching a campaign this month to raise the funds to deploy 6 new focal therapy suites into hospitals across the UK over the next 18 months at a cost of around £500,000 each, which is much lower than the millions that are required for surgical and radiotherapy equipment. Details can be found on the charity’s website at prost8.org.uk.
At a time when many men are struggling to be seen in the NHS for even an initial consultation for prostate cancer, let alone be treated, this initiative will bring respite and hope to both the creaking health system and the patients themselves. The charity states that this campaign will bring about the single biggest change in treating men with prostate cancer in more than 20 years.
Founder of the charity, Paul Sayer, from Southend on Sea has himself undergone focal therapy for his prostate cancer in 2018 at the age of 62 and is now cancer free. Paul says ‘I was just so lucky to find out about HIFU as my local hospital was just offering me surgery or radiotherapy. I researched my options and found professor Ahmed at Imperial College and I truly owe my lifestyle to him and his team.
I am all but unchanged from my pre-cancer self. As a result, I am now driven to make sure as many men as possible know about focal therapy and, more importantly, can access it when needed”.
In fact, Peter Duncan, who is an ambassador for the charity, has recently produced and appeared in a pantomime film and some of the profits are going to support Prost8. He added “I continue to do everything I ever did before as well as being plant based andstaying fit. It’s hard to believe that 1000’s of men are unnecessarily undergoing radical treatments leaving them with long-term life-changing after-effects when this incredible alternative exists”.
“I am fully supporting the Prost8 charity initiative and am working with them to make sure this happens!”.