Using sound waves to kill cancer?

London: Scientists claim to have come up with a unique way to treat prostate cancer -- by using sound waves to blast tumour cells.

A team at the University College London says its accuracy means the new method could well be an alternative to traditional treatment with significantly fewer side-effects, the `Daily Express` reported.

The British study, funded by the Medical Research Council, is the first to use the experimental treatment known as HIFU (high-intensity focused ultrasound). It can even treat areas of cancer just a few millimetres in size.

In a trial, 95 per cent of patients were cancer-free after a year. The sound waves cause the tissue to vibrate and heat up, killing the cells in the target area.

Performed in hospital under general anaesthetic, most patients are back home within 24 hours. This is a less invasive procedure where only the tumour and surrounding tissue are removed.

The results show that 12 months after treatment, none of the 41 men in the trial had incontinence, a major side-effect of treatment, say the scientists.

Owen Sharp, chief executive of The Prostate Cancer Charity, said: "We welcome any prostate cancer treatment which limits side-effects such as incontinence and impotence."