News items Research into innovative treatment for prostate cancer

28 March 2023

Radboud university medical center receives 3.8 million euros for research under Potentially Promising Care. It concerns a study of an innovative treatment of prostate cancer, in which tumor cells are burned away or killed with electricity. The amount is being made available by the Dutch National Health Care Institute and ZonMw. The study will start in the fall of 2023.

In the Netherlands, nearly 15,000 men are diagnosed with prostate cancer each year. 90% of them are 60 years or older. Various treatments exist, such radical prostatectomy or radiotherapy. However, both are associated with considerable morbidity, such as urinary incontinence, erectile dysfunction, and bowel dysfunction.

A possible alternative treatment is focal therapy. Focal therapy is a promising, minimally invasive strategy to selectively treat localized prostate cancer. The prostate cancer cells are burned away or killed with electricity. The procedure takes place in the operating room using precise imaging techniques. The treatment is specific to the tumor and designed to limit damage to surrounding tissue. 

Health insurance companies currently do not reimburse for this treatment because the method has not yet been proven effective. This is why the National Health Care Institute has now designated the therapy as Potentially Promising Care. This means that research into its effectiveness can begin. The researchers are specifically looking at the quality of life and whether this treatment does not give worse results than the standard treatment. If the results are positive, the treatment will be eligible for inclusion in the basic package. 

Jurgen F├╝tterer, professor of Image-Based Oncological Interventions at Radboudumc: "Previous research shows that focal therapy is a safe option with good tumor control and few side effects. We now want to investigate this in the Netherlands as well, and reduce the risk of bothersome side effects for future patients. In this study, we are investigating the effectiveness, complications and costs of focal therapy and comparing it with the current standard treatment." 

Michiel Sedelaar, urologist at Radboudumc: "Men with prostate cancer often have many years of life ahead of them. But those years are regularly accompanied by side effects such as incontinence, impotence and urinary and defecation complaints. I hope this treatment will lead to fewer side effects in certain groups of patients and therefore a better quality of life." 

Participating in this study

Radboud university medical center conducts this study in collaboration with Isala Hospital, St. Antonius Hospital, Amsterdam UMC and the HIFU Clinic. Men can participate with localized intermediate risk prostate cancer who are eligible for radical prostate removal or radiotherapy according to current guidelines. Among 356 participants, lots will be drawn to determine who will receive standard treatment and who will receive focal therapy. The Effectiveness of focal therapy in men with prostate cancer (ENFORCE) study will begin in the fall of 2023. Registration for the study is not possible at this time.  

About this grant

The Potentially Promising Care grant program is intended for relatively expensive care that appears to be effective. However, this care is not covered by the basic health insurance, because it has not yet been proven that the care is at least as effective as the usual treatment in the Netherlands. Potentially Promising care allows practitioners to conduct research into its effectiveness and cost-effectiveness. By bringing Promising Care to patients faster, the National Health Care Institute contributes to more Appropriate Care. The Dutch National Health Care Institute implements the Potentially Promising Care grant scheme together with ZonMw, commissioned by the Ministry of Health.

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