Hot needle therapy treats prostate cancer within minutes by firing high-dose microwaves into the tumour
- New study found that within a week of the treatment the tumour was eradicated
- Needles inserted into prostate through the perineum using real-time scanning
- Up to four needles can be used at one time and the procedure is carried out under a general anaesthetic
Hot needles that fire off microwaves can effectively treat prostate cancer in minutes.
A new study has found that within a week of the treatment, the tumour was eradicated in eight of the ten patients who underwent it — and without causing damage to surrounding tissue.
About one man in eight in the UK develops prostate cancer. Conventional treatment for the disease, provided it hasn’t spread to other parts of the body, includes surgery, radiotherapy and active surveillance (watching and waiting to see if the cancer progresses).
While surgery and radiotherapy are effective, they can have unwanted side-effects, including incontinence, erectile dysfunction and injury to organs surrounding the prostate, such as the rectum and bladder.
The needles are inserted into the prostate through the perineum using real-time scanning to make sure the tumour is targeted correctly. (Stock image)
The new treatment is a type of focal therapy, where high-dose energy — temperature, electricity and even light — is used to destroy a tumour in the prostate. In this case, microwaves delivered through ultra-fine needles are used.
The needles are inserted into the prostate through the perineum — the area between the anus and the genitals — using real-time scanning to make sure the tumour is targeted correctly.
Up to four needles can be used at one time, depending on the size of the tumour, and the procedure is carried out under a general anaesthetic.
Once the needles are in place, microwave energy, similar to that used in a microwave cooker, is generated and passed through the needles to heat and destroy the tissue.
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The whole procedure, which can be carried out as a day case, takes just six to ten minutes.
Results of a study at the Hopitaux de Paris in France on ten patients, whose cancer hadn’t spread beyond the prostate and whose tumours were classed as small, showed the needle treatment can be highly effective, with the target tumour being completely eradicated after just seven days in eight of the ten patients in the study.
Furthermore, there were no adverse events or complications reported.
A larger trial with 30 patients is due to start soon at the Chinese University of Hong Kong.
Commenting on the new approach, Professor Raj Persad, a consultant urologist at Bristol Urology Associates, said: ‘The aim of this focal therapy with needles is to kill the cancer without the patient enduring any side-effects.
‘The challenge is showing that the treatment effects are long-lasting and that there is a low recurrence rate, but early results are very encouraging.’
Men with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) — including Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis, both long-term conditions involving inflammation of the gut — may need extra checks for prostate cancer.
New research analysed international data and found they could have an 81 per cent increased risk of developing the disease compared with other men, reports the journal Prostate Cancer and Prostatic Diseases.
The inflammation seen in IBD frequently involves the rectum, which is close to the prostate, and the theory is this may lead to chronic inflammation of the prostate, a risk factor for cancer.
Can cocoa help tackle obesity?
Could a daily dose of cocoa help to tackle obesity in young people?
More than 100 overweight children, aged ten to 16, are taking part in a trial at the Federico Gomez Children’s Hospital of Mexico, where they will be given a cocoa supplement, or a placebo, for 12 weeks.
The antioxidants (compounds that can prevent cell damage) in cocoa have been shown to reduce insulin resistance.
This is where the body’s cells become resistant to the hormone insulin, leading to high blood sugar levels, the development of type 2 diabetes and weight gain.
Green light eases migraine
A new study suggests that green light can help in the treatment of migraine.
Researchers from the University of Arizona, in the U.S., found that after ten weeks of one to two hours of daily exposure to green light (using special LED strips), patients reported significantly fewer migraines, with the number of headache days per month dropping by 60 per cent, reports the journal Cephalalgia.
One theory is that green light increases the production of natural pain-relieving chemicals in the brain.
The researchers say that the treatment could be particularly beneficial for those who do not respond well to standard medication.
Wearing well: How men and women age differently
This week: The skeleton
Women rapidly lose bone strength after the menopause but for men it is muscle that lessens with age
After the menopause — when oestrogen levels fall dramatically — women rapidly lose bone strength, as the hormone helps bones to retain strengthening calcium.
That is why, in the ten years following the change, women lose up to 50 per cent of their bone mass.
But for men it is muscle that lessens with age — they start to lose this as their production of the hormone testosterone, key to muscle strength, falls at a rate of 1 per cent a year after the age of 40. In fact, over their lifetime, men will lose muscle at twice the rate of women.
Men don’t start to lose bone strength until their 70s, when their ability to absorb calcium decreases (which also happens to women at this age).
A downside for older women is their bones may not benefit as much from exercise as men’s do. Research published in the Journal of Osteoporosis in 2011 found that the large fall in oestrogen levels and subsequent drop in bone mass in women ‘appears to diminish their skeleton’s responsiveness to exercise more than in men’.
Rub, Don’t scratch, an itch: A recent study in mice found that stroking the skin can be as effective at relieving an itch as scratching, reports the Journal of Neuroscience.
Researchers at the University of Miami found that the same nerve pathway under the skin was activated whether the skin is rubbed or scratched, resulting in itch relief.
Kitchen remedies: The health wonders in your larder
This week: Edamame beans to lower cholesterol
Studies suggest that you can lower your total cholesterol level by around 6 per cent by eating a 120g portion of boiled edamame beans every day
According to Heart UK, the cholesterol charity, some foods ‘punch well above their weight in helping to reduce cholesterol levels’ and so protect against heart disease.
Soya — or edamame — is one of these.
Studies suggest that you can lower your total cholesterol level by around 6 per cent by eating a 120g portion of boiled edamame beans every day over the course of six weeks.
Experts think the protein in soya and edamame beans lowers ‘bad’ LDL cholesterol by increasing the activity of receptors that take it out of the blood.