The treatment uses lasers and a drug made from deep sea bacteria to eliminate tumours without causing severe side effects.
Trials on 413 men – published in The Lancet Oncology – showed nearly half of them had no remaining trace of cancer.
“This changes everything,” said Prof Mark Emberton, who tested the technique at University College London.
The new treatment uses a drug, made from bacteria that live in the almost total darkness of the seafloor and which become toxic only when exposed to light.
Tested in 47 hospitals across Europe, 49% of patients went into complete remission.
Also, only 6% of patients needed to have the prostate removed, compared with 30% of patients that did not have the new therapy.
Men had no significant side effects after two years.
The chances of cancer progressing to a more dangerous stage were three times lower for patients on VTP, and the treatment doubled the average time to progression from 14 months to 28 months.
“This is truly a huge leap forward for prostate cancer treatment, which has previously lagged decades behind other solid cancers such as breast cancer. In 1975 almost everyone with breast cancer was given a radical mastectomy, but since then treatments have steady improved and we now rarely need to remove the whole breast. In prostate cancer we are still commonly removing or irradiating the whole prostate, so the success of this new tissue-preserving treatment is welcome news indeed.” says lead investigator Professor Mark Emberton, Dean of UCL Medical Sciences and Consultant Urologist at UCLH.
However, the new treatment is not yet available for patients.
The VTP treatment (‘vascular-targeted photodynamic therapy’) is currently being reviewed by the European Medicines Agency (EMA), so it is likely to be a number of years before it can be offered to patients more widely.
The technology was developed at the Weizmann Institute of Science in Israel alongside Steba Biotech, which holds the commercial license for the treatment