A pioneering treatment used for the first time on the NHS could offer hope for men suffering from prostate cancer.
Even the most hard-to-reach tumours could be destroyed with the one-hour ‘Nanoknife’ operation, which has been described as ‘amazingly simple and quick’ by surgeons.
It uses a technique called irreversible electroporation to administer electrical pulses into the tumour, cutting open the membrane of the cells in a far less invasive manner than standard treatments, meaning there are fewer risks to surrounding organs and tissues.
The introduction of the therapy on the NHS comes as more than 50,000 cases of prostate cancer are detected each year. Treatments for the disease typically involve radiotherapy or surgery to remove the prostate, which can cause problems with urination, incontinence and loss of sexual function.
In comparison, Nanoknife offers a reduced chance of side effects and can be carried out more quickly, with the first six operations on the NHS carried out by surgeons at UCLH.
Commenting on the treatment, per The Telegraph, consultant urologist Professor Mark Emberton 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.’
Emberton has said that Nanoknife has the potential to become a standard treatment for prostate cancer as opposed to having it only available in major specialist centres, as is currently the case with targeted treatments.
The professor added: ‘At times like this, when the NHS is under great pressure, day surgery avoids the need for overnight stays in hospital and means that we can use our operating theatres more efficiently.’
Neil Gershon was among the men to receive the treatment on the NHS, saying afterwards that he was drawn in by ‘the fact the chance of collateral damage is much reduced.’
Recalling his experience, he continued: ‘It was all done in a day which was great. When the general anaesthetic wore off, I felt absolutely fine, no pain at all. It couldn’t have gone better.’
Natalia Norori, the knowledge manager at Prostate Cancer UK, has said the therapy could ‘make a big difference to the quality of life of men diagnosed with localised prostate cancer’. Norori added that following the operations at UCLH, Nanoknife now needs to be tested in larger trials.
If you’ve been affected by any of these issues and want to speak to someone in confidence, contact Macmillan’s Cancer Support Line on 0808 808 00 00, 8am–8pm seven days a week
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