A Solihull surgeon has become the first in the West Midlands to use a pioneering new treatment for prostate cancer, w hich melts cancerous tumours without resorting to radical surgery.
High intensity focused ultrasound (HIFU), which is a non-surgical procedure, has undergone a number of trials around the world and has been approved by the National Institute for Clinical Excellence (NICE), but it is not yet available to NHS patients.
Manu Nair, a consultant urologist at BUPA Parkway Hospital in Solihull, has already treated two Midlands men since he began performing the procedure in May. Two more men are set to undergo the same treatment next month.
It is similar to green light laser therapy, which is used to treat benign prostatic hyperplasia - better known as an enlarged prostate - as it uses ultrasound energy to vaporise the cancer without damaging healthy tissue.
Prostate cancer affects one in three men over the age of 50, but recent research conducted by the Institute of Cancer Research revealed many men with living with low-grade cancer suffered life-long effects from needless radical treatment, such as a prostectomy or radiotherapy.
Mr Nair, who also works at Heartlands and Solihull Hospitals, said the £4,500 procedure should be offered to patients on the NHS.
"At the moment Birmingham patients can get this on the NHS, if they travel to University College London hospital which is the only other place in England offering HIFU.
"It's not yet available on the NHS here but I believe the local PCT is in negotiations looking at its budget at the moment."
HIFU is carried out under a spinal or general anaesthetic, and can be completed within a day, allowing the patient to resume full activities the next day.
Mr Nair added: "The new procedure is giving excellent results. I wanted to bring this treatment to the Midlands after seeing how it changes men's lives.
"The basic principle of HIFU is that ultrasound waves heat up and kill cells; this can be used as a cancer treatment if it is focused specifically at the area with the tumour using a probe.
"Traditionally, men with prostate cancer have faced treatment with invasive surgery, radiotherapy or hormones, but now with HIFU, patients can undergo a single-treatment procedure, which has been proven to have fewer side effects than the conventional treatment.
"It works best in patients who are in early stages of the disease, so I would recommend that anyone with any symptoms sees their GP as soon as possible."
The Government launched an NHS Prostate Cancer programme in 2001 and vowed to make pioneering treatments such as high ultrasounds widely available.
It is now the most common male cancer and the second leading cause of cancer deaths in men. It commonly affects men aged between 60 and 80 and often has no symptoms in its early stages.
Yet every year 27,000 men are diagnosed with the disease and 10,000 die from it.