A new technique to treat early prostate cancer may have far fewer side-effects than existing therapies, say experts.
A 41-patient study in the journal Lancet Oncology suggests targeted ultrasound treatment could reduce the risk of impotence and incontinence.
Researchers say it could transform future treatment if the findings are repeated in larger studies.
The Medical Research Council (MRC), which funded the study, welcomed the results, which it said were promising.
Each year 37,000 men in the UK are diagnosed with prostate cancer.
Many face a difficult dilemma: the disease kills about 10,000 men every year, but for some it may not get worse if left untreated.
Standard treatment with surgery or radiotherapy involves treating the whole prostate gland, and can harm surrounding tissue, with a serious risk of side-effects, including urinary incontinence and impotence.
Doctors at University College Hospital in London have carried out the first trial using high-intensity focused ultrasound (HIFU) aimed at small patches of cancer cells on the prostate.
This was a “proof of concept” study involving 41 patients.