Trust performs UK first in trial for new prostate cancer treatment

Clinicians at Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust have used MRI guided focussed ultrasound for the first time to treat prostate cancer, as part of a new trial. 

Each year, more than 43,000 men are diagnosed with prostate cancer, making it the most common form of cancer affecting British males. Currently, patients are either offered surgery to remove the whole prostate or radiotherapy. Although these treatments are effective, they are highly invasive and can often leave patients with debilitating side effects, such as incontinence or impotence.

 Edward Holdbrook, 62, is the UK’s first patient to received MRI guided focussed ultrasound to treat his prostate cancer. Using new technology, known as a Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) guided Focused Ultrasound device, MRI guides clinicians to pinpoint the exact location of the tumour. Once the exact location of the tumour is known, intense heat from the high intensity focussed ultrasound waves is applied directly to tumour, destroying it during the process.

By guiding the high intensity focussed ultrasound using MRI clinicians can “see” the tumor in real-time and monitor the treatment as they go, unlike current high intensity focused ultrasound (known as HIFU) treatments currently available. Using this method, clinicians can be sure that they are only destroying cancerous tissue and not disturbing any healthy tissue nearby. This means patients are far less likely to be left with the side effects associated with other treatments and do not have to undergo an invasive operation. The study being carried out by clinicians at the Trust will investigate whether MRI guided focussed ultrasound is a safe and effective treatment for prostate cancer.

Edward who is self-employed and from London said:

“Being told you have cancer is one of the worst things you can ever hear, but on top of that, to be informed that many of the treatment options available can have such life changing side effects is very upsetting. So when my urologist suggested taking part in the trial of this new treatment called MRI guided focused ultrasound I jumped at the chance.”

“The MRI guided focused ultrasound treatment was quick, efficient and virtually pain free. I would encourage all patients who are eligible to take part in this trial. By doing so we are working together to ensure that those who may be diagnosed with prostate cancer in the future are able to access the very best treatments with minimal side effects.”

Mr Mathias Winkler consultant urologist at the Trust and co-investigator in the trial led by Professor Wladyslaw Gedroyc said:

“This trial is the next step in using high intensity focused ultrasound to treat prostate cancer and has the potential to offer patients a far less invasive procedure, which ultimately means far fewer side effects.

“Should this trial be successful we hope that this type of treatment will be available to patients across the NHS and that it will vastly improve the quality of life for prostate cancer survivors.”


If you would like to be considered to take part in the MRI guided focused ultrasound trial please email