Men diagnosed with the cancer face a difficult treatment regime, as radiotherapy attacks the whole prostate gland, leading to side effects such as impotence and incontinence.
But now a new technique using ultrasound waves to directly target cancer cells is being trialled on 41 patients, with scientists saying the result could transform cancer care.
A probe is inserted and placed close to the prostate, which then emits sound waves designed to heat cancer cells present there. This results in minimal damage to the areas surrounding the prostate, and hopefully reducing the number of side effects.
Hashim Ahmed is the urological surgeon who led the study, and he said, “We've shown that nine in 10 men had no impotence and none of the men in the study had incontinence of urine.
"This could offer a transformation of the way we treat prostate cancer. It could offer a cost-effective treatment for the NHS, and offer men with early prostate cancer an opportunity to treat their disease, but with very few side-effects."
Further trials are now needed to see if the treatments can work on a larger scale. However, cancer charities have welcomed the results as good news.
Owen Sharp of the Prostate Cancer Charity said, "We look forward to the results of further trials, which we hope will provide a clearer idea of whether this treatment can control cancer in the long term whilst ridding men of the fear that treating their cancer might mean losing their quality of life."