Some New Developments

Some experimental developments

PET Scanning

A PET scan (Positron Emission Tomography) is taken to produce a detailed, three-dimensional picture of the inside of the body. Choline PET-CT scans have been shown to be effective for prostate cancer, especially for determining whether there is any spread outside the prostate. Before the scan takes place, a radioactive substance, known as a radiotracer, is passed into your body either by injection, by an inhaler, or a small tablet that you swallow. In future, choline PET scans may be replaced by PSMA (Prostate specific Membrane Antigen) PET scans.

Proton Beam Radiotherapy

By 2018 the UK should have 3 or 4 Proton Beam centres. The potential advantage of protons over photons is that there may be significantly less collateral damage. Currently the therapy is employed for eye and some brain cancers. To date, proton therapy has not been tested against standard radiotherapy for prostate cancer.

Photo-dynamic therapy (PDT)

Photo-dynamic therapy has been under trial at University College London for some years. It uses a drug, which is injected into the patient. Needles (like cryotherapy) insert laser light into the prostate to activate the light-sensitive drug, with the object of killing the cancer. It has currently been discontinued as a trial, but may be available privately.

New developments to improve initial diagnosis

A urine-based test called EN2 has been under development for some while. This will not replace PSA but, if available, it could be an additional tool in the armoury of the doctor. More recent is the Stockholm 3 (STHLM3) test. Instead of PSA alone, this consists of a combination of 6 blood markers (including PSA), genetic profiling, and patient characteristics (age, family history, previous prostate biopsy, prostate examination). In a large trial it found that it could reduce the number of men having biopsies by 32%, without compromising the ability to diagnose significant prostate cancer.

 

Caution:  
  while these drugs and treatments may be currently showing promising results in trials in or outside the UK,
there is no guarantee that they will become approved by NICE in the NHS.