New treatment in the fight against prostate cancer

Author: talkhealth

Date: DEC 2016

A new treatment in prostate cancer featured in the news today (20 December 2016) is being hailed by some surgeons as transformative.

413 men took part in a clinical trial for a new therapy known as vascular-targeted photodynamic. The trial was carried out in 47 hospitals across Europe and resulted in 49% of patients going into remission. The treatment uses lasers and a drug made from deep sea bacteria to eliminate growths without side-effects. The bacteria lives in almost total darkness on the bottom of the sea and becomes toxic when exposed to the light. The lasers are inserted into the perineum of the patient (the area between the anus and the scrotum) and then into the prostate gland. The laser works to trigger the bacteria which then kills the cancer leaving the prostate healthy. This new treatment was developed at the Weizmann Institute of Science in Israel alongside Steba Biotech.

talkhealth interviewed Professor Christopher Eden, Consultant Urologist and leader in his field at The Prostate Clinic who said "A treatment that is 100% effective and one that is totally devoid of side-effects represents the ultimate goal of all medical researchers but until we get there, what is a reasonable trade-off between side-effects and cancer control for men with prostate cancer?"

He went on to say "The recently released trial results of vascular-targeted photodynamic therapy (VTP) in 413 men published in Lancet Oncology showed a 49% 'complete remission' rate in men who received this novel treatment compared to 14% who did not. Patients experienced bladder and sexual dysfunction that resolved within 2 years. Yet this is a group of men whose 'complete remission' rate after a similar follow-up period would have been more than 96.1% following keyhole prostate surgery with a lasting incontinence rate of only 2.6% and a sexual dysfunction rate in men aged 65 years or less of only 6% (Eden CG, Neill MG, Louie-Johnsun MW) The first 1000 cases of laparoscopic radical prostatectomy in the UK: evidence of multiple learning curves. British Journal of Urology International 2009; 103: 1224-1230).”

"Fewer side-effects from treatment is what all doctors and patients strive for but these treatments have to be effective against what they are trying to cure, especially in the case of prostate cancer which kills more than 10,000 men a year in the UK alone. A treatment that produces few side-effects but also cures few patients is not progress in my book."

According to Cancer Research UK, almost 47,000 men are diagnosed with prostate cancer every year in the UK and is the second most common cancer in the UK.

Since the late 1970s, incidents of prostate cancer in men has more than doubled (155% increase) in the UK, and this is linked with PSA testing and greater awareness of the disease.

For more information about prostate health, take a look at the talkhealth patient journey and related articles and talk with others in our menshealth discussion forum. You may also want to read the Q&A’s from our recent Online Clinic on Prostate & Testicular Health. For NHS Choices view on the story, read their Behind the Headlines analysis.

Sources of evidence available on request.

Article written by talkhealth.

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Last revised: 21 December 2016

Next review: 21 December 2019