High-intensity focused ultrasound may offer prostate cancer patients a treatment option with fewer side effects by targeting tumors better, according to a study published in the medical journal The Lancet Oncology.

The technology enables doctors to preserve the prostate by aiming only at the cancerous area in contrast to standard treatment, such as irradiation or surgical removal of the gland, which may cause impotence and leakage of urine or feces, researchers in London said in the study published today. The technique, also called HIFU, may provide men with an alternative similar to the lumpectomy, in which doctors remove tumors rather than the whole organ in breast-cancer patients, they said.

“The signal from this study is quite strong,” Hashim Ahmed, a urologist at the University College London who was the report’s lead author, said in a phone interview. “When you look at the current standard of care, there’s a 1-in-3, or 1-in-2 chance of having the perfect outcome. In this study, after 12 months, it’s a 9-in-10 chance.”

None of the 41 men in the trial reported urine incontinence and only one in 10 suffered from poor erections 12 months after the treatment, the researchers said. About 95 percent of the men were cancer-free after a year, meaning most had a “perfect outcome” in terms of disease progression and side effects, the authors said.

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