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'Ice ball' technique used to treat prostate cancer

Clinicians at Southampton’s university hospitals are set to use a revolutionary technique to treat prostate cancer which involves freezing it with an ‘ice ball’ on the end of a needle.

Tim Dudderidge, a consultant urological surgeon at Southampton General Hospital, will join a small group of specialists in the UK now performing focal cryotherapy for men with recurrent disease.

The procedure works by placing hollow needles into the prostate and passing through compressed argon gases which cool rapidly to around minus 40°C to freeze and destroy cancer cells in the affected part of the gland.

Most patients who undergo the treatment, which takes around two hours to complete under general anaesthetic, return home the same day.

The treatment offers an alternative for men who have undergone unsuccessful radiotherapy and are not suitable for High Intensity Focused Ultrasound (HIFU), a technique which uses high frequency sound waves.

Although HIFU is another recent development and enables clinicians to deliver treatment without the need for surgery, it is not effective if the prostate is too big, there is too much build of calcium which blocks the sounds waves or if the cancer is at the front of the gland.

Mr Dudderidge said: “It is really exciting for us to be able to offer this cancer treatment and give men the chance of a cure when their first treatment hasn’t worked.

“While we have also launched a HIFU service and have successfully treated more than 30 men in the past year alone, it is unfortunately not suitable for every patient, which makes the introduction of cryotherapy so important.”

He added: “This technique, which uses ice balls to freeze cancer cells, has been used by experts in Southampton for a number of years to treat patients with kidney cancer and we hope to build on that internationally-leading reputation for prostate patients.”

Mr Dudderidge will perform the first two cases of focal cryotherapy for prostate cancer at Southampton General Hospital today (12 June) supported by Mr Manit Arya, a consultant urological surgeon at University College Hospital in London.




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