A treatment that uses sound waves to blast away prostate tumors has been proven to cure as many men of the disease as that of the surgery that removes the gland – while causing significantly fewer side effects. Until now the new procedure, called high-intensity focused ultrasound (HIFU), has been considered experimental.

This has meant that the majority of British men diagnosed with the condition – including former Rolling Stone Bill Wyman – have only been offered the more invasive operation called radical prostatectomy, which has a clear track record despite the risk of impotence and incontinence.

HIFU is a treatment that uses sound waves to blast away prostate tumours has been proven to cure as many men of the disease as surgery that removes the gland – while causing significantly fewer side effects. A landmark study announced at the European Association of Urology annual meeting in Munich revealed that focal HIFU, which targets only the tumour while preserving the healthy prostate tissue around it, offers a 93 per cent recurrence-free survival rate at five years, putting it on a par with prostatectomy.