A “GROUNDBREAKING” cancer treatment, which a Basingstoke medic helped to pioneer, is now taking off around the country.

Consultant urologist Richard Hindley has for years been treating patients with prostate cancer using a technique known as HIFU – High Intensity Focused Ultrasound.

He was one of only a few medics nationwide to be involved in a programme of research into HIFU, which was part-funded by local charity Pelican Cancer Foundation.

Following the hugely positive results, and publication of the research, the technique is becoming increasingly used across the country.

Mr Hindley said: “It is really taking off, and it is a very exciting time. It is great to see it starting to be used in more and more hospitals as it means more patients will be able to be treated with the technique.

“We’re proud of the fact that Basingstoke has had a huge part to play in developing HIFU.”

The technique uses pinpoint diagnosis to target ultrasound waves on the cancerous part of the prostate gland, killing off the cancer cells.

The treatment is focused on the prostate gland to avoid damaging other areas, and so drastically reduces the side-effects which can accompany prostate cancer treatment, such as urinary and erectile problems.

Mr Hindley said: “When we first started, we would use the ultrasound to zap the whole of the prostate gland.

“But the side-effects patients could suffer from after the treatment were still a major issue and made some men very reluctant, understandably, to have the surgery.

“As surgeons, we are not simply interested in prolonging life, but also at improving a patient’s quality of life and we realised that we could, with the help of MRI scans, target only the tumour, which drastically reduced these unpleasant side-effects. It was really quite groundbreaking.”

The treatment cannot be used on all patients with prostate cancer, but it is suitable in cases where it has not spread outside the prostate gland.

Mr Hindley said: “We have treated countless patients from all over the country at the hospital and at BMI The Hampshire Clinic. It’s now very exciting to see this technique really taking off across the whole country.”