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New prostate cancer treatment can minimize impotence, incontinence

A new treatment for prostate cancer can rid the disease in nine out of 10 men without debilitating side effects, a study has found.

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Tyrone Pierre, of New Orleans, LA, attends a two-day free New Orleans Communities Are Responding Everyday (C.A.R.E.) Clinic for people with no health care insurance in New Orleans, LA, Tuesday, August 31, 2010. Patients were offered basic medical help, including HIV and PSA testing for prostrate cancer. (ROD LAMKEY JR/AFP/Getty Images)

A new treatment for prostate cancer can rid the disease in nine out of 10 men without debilitating side effects, a study has found.

The treatment, which uses "high-intensity focused ultrasound" (HIFU) to heat only the tumor, means men can also be treated without an overnight stay in hospital, according to Britain's Daily Telegraph.

The 41-patient study published in the journal Lancet Oncology also suggested that targeted ultrasound treatment could reduce the risk of impotence and incontinence.

Standard treatment with surgery or radiotherapy, which involves treating the whole prostate gland, can harm surrounding tissue, leading to these conditions. 

The paper cites experts as saying the results are "very encouraging" and a "paradigm" shift in treatment of the disease that affects tens of thousands of men.

According to the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC), doctors will diagnose 241,740 new cases of prostate cancer in the U.S. in 2012. Additionally, the disease is expected to claim more than 28,000 lives this year.

According to the BBC, doctors at University College Hospital in London carried out the first trial using HIFU, aimed at small patches of cancer cells on the prostate.

A probe placed close to the prostate emitted sound waves that heated the targeted cells to 176 degreed Fahrenheit (80 degrees Celsius), while causing minimal damage to surrounding nerves and muscles.

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According to Hashim Ahmed, the urological surgeon who led the study, says the results, 12 months after treatment, are very encouraging.

Hashim Ahmed, a urological surgeon at the trust who led the study, said: "We've shown in this study that focal therapy — by targeting the individual areas of cancer — can avoid the collateral damage. We've shown that nine in 10 men had no impotence and none of the men in the study had incontinence of urine."

However, he said, while the results were very encouraging: "We need to remember that this treatment was given to fewer than 50 men, without follow-up over a sustained period of time”

The findings needed to be repeated in larger studies, he said. 

The news comes days after actor Ryan O'Neal, 70, confirmed that he had been diagnosed with stage 2 prostate cancer, correcting reports that he was suffering from stage 4 cancer.

O'Neal, whose partner Farrah Fawcett died of anal cancer in 2009.

In a statement released to People Magazine, he said that while he was "shocked and stunned by the news," he had reason to feel fortunate.

"It was detected early, and according to my extraordinary team of doctors, the prognosis is positive for a full recovery," he says in the statement.

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