IT is a revolutionary treatment that up until now had only been available to private patients in Southampton.

But today, for the first time, NHS patients in the city will be treated with an innovative therapy that can transform the life of those fighting prostate cancer and avoid the need for invasive surgery.

From targeting only cancerous cells in the prostate gland, to offering men a much quicker recovery – High Intensity Focused Ultrasound (HIFU) has been hailed a major step forward in fighting the disease.

Today Tim Dudderidge, consultant urological surgeon at Southampton General Hospital, will perform the treatment on four NHS patients, making him one of only a small group of clinicians in the UK now performing HIFU routinely on the NHS.

As previously reported in the Daily Echo, when Mr Dudderidge performed the treatment for the first time in Southampton on a private patient last September, the benefits of being able to target cancer cells direct have huge benefits for patients.

The procedure, which sees patients leave hospital the same day, allows surgeons to focus high frequency beam of ultrasound wave directly on to tumours in the prostate gland without affecting healthy surrounding tissue.

Although conventional treatments such as invasive surgery to remove the whole prostate or radiotherapy can effectively treat tumours, patients often suffer side effects such as incontinence or impotence.

And unlike radiation, HIFU uses clean energy, so the procedure can be repeated, if necessary, without damaging healthy tissue.

Mr Dudderidge, who was one of the first in the UK to use the technique, said: “The launch of this service is fantastic news for NHS patients from across the south of England and means we now are one of the few centres in the region to offer the full range of surgical and oncological therapies for men suffering from prostate cancer.

“This technique is truly revolutionary in that it acts in such a targeted way, where we are able to focus sound waves of up to 80C heat on areas the size of a grain of rice.

“Early study data has shown the treatment to be very effective at treating tumours while also minimising damage to surrounding tissue and, as a result, reducing the risk of serious side effects such as impotence and incontinence.”

In a study published in the journal Lancet Oncology in 2012, surgeons at University College London Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust performed HIFU on 41 men and found 95 per cent were free of cancer after 12 months, none were incontinent and only one in ten suffered impotence.