Prostate cancer is the country##s most prevalent cancer among men, with 10,000 deaths among 35,000 cases each year, affecting a third of men over 50.
Traditional therapies are invasive and require overnight stays in hospital, with multiple visits for further treatment.
They also have significant and long-lasting side-affects that put many men off.
However, new research shows that intensive ultrasound therapy matches the 92 per cent cure rate of traditional treatments – but dramatically reduces side effects.
The technique is also much simpler, involving a one off visit, with sufferers walking out of the hospital hours later.
Furthermore, those who undergo ultrasound can return to normal life in just a week or two compared with up to six months for the other treatments.
The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence, the NHS rationing body, which has previously considered the results of similar tests “uncertain”, has pledged to consider the new evidence as it assesses the technique for use in the health service.
It currently remains in clinical trials, but the results were described as “excellent news” by cancer charities.
“This technique needs careful evaluation to make sure that it can produce the same results as the proven treatments for early prostate cancer,” said Professor Peter Johnson, chief clinician at Cancer Research UK.
“If the treatment can be shown to have less side effects then that will be excellent news, but more research is needed to show this.”
Ministers have been considering whether to introduce a nationwide screening programme for prostate cancer, after the largest study of its kind suggested that it could save lives.
However, experts have warned that the risks associated with traditional surgery to remove some slow growing tumours, which can include incontinence, outweigh the risks posed by the disease for many men.
If caught early enough then treatments such as radiotherapy and surgery can stop the spread of the cancer but the side-effects severely damage the quality of life of the patient.
Of men treated with surgery or radiotherapy, up to 20 per cent usually suffer incontinence and half have impotence.
Radiotherapy can also cause other side effects in up to one in five patients, including pain and bleeding.
The new technique, known as High Intensity Focused Ultrasound (Hifu), focuses powerful soundwaves on an area about a tenth of an inch across. It effectively boils cancerous cells to death, killing tumours, and is far less invasive.
In the trial of 172 men, carried out by the University College Hospital and the private Princess Grace Hospital, both in London, less than one per cent had incontinence, none had any bowel problems and around 35 per cent had impotence.
All the men in the study, published in the British Journal of Cancer, were day cases, with almost all discharged from hospital in an average of five hours.
Dr Hashim Ahmed, who ran the trial, said as the preliminary results suggest the lack of side effects and short hospital stay made it “clearly advantageous to men with prostate cancer”.
He hoped that Nice, the rationing body, would seriously consider allowing it to be rolled out across the NHS.
Professor Karol Sikora, an expert in cancer treatment, said: “It is very encouraging that new approaches to prostate cancer are being sought. I think anything that can reduce side effects is a good thing.”
John Neate, chief executive of The Prostate Cancer Charity, said it was “promising” and could be a “third way” in the treatment of the disease although more research was needed.
“As HIFU is a new technology, that data does not yet exist and longer term trials are necessary, but these are promising results,” he said.
A spokesman for NICE said: “We will consider every piece of new evidence to see if it has impact on the guidance.”
The Daily Telegraph