Local patients can now access quicker and less invasive tests for prostate cancer thanks to a new procedure launched by the urology department at Surrey and Sussex Healthcare NHS Trust (SASH).

Over 360 people have a prostate biopsy every year at the Trust, at both Crawley and East Surrey Hospitals. Until now, the biopsy would involve a general or spinal anaesthetic but SASH staff have now introduced local anaesthetic trans-perineal biopsies utilising the PrecisionPoint access system, which is much less invasive and allows a quicker return to normal activity. Previously local patients would not have had this option available or have had to travel further afield to access this advanced technique.

Under the previous procedure, the skin would need to be punctured around twenty times in order to take the necessary samples. The new approach involves between two and four punctures, enabling much more targeted anaesthetic to be administered to the area and not requiring the patient to undergo a general anaesthetic.

As a result, patients can generally leave hospital just an hour after the procedure, whereas previously they would need to stay for most of the day before returning home. Patients are able to return to normal activities, such as work and driving, far quicker and the risk of infection is reduced. As well as allowing patients to recover more quickly, this also means more patients can be seen per day, leading to an overall reduction in the time to rule out or receive a diagnosis.

Mr Saheel Mukhtar, Locum Urology Consultant at Surrey and Sussex Healthcare NHS Trust and part of the team to introduce the procedure, said: “This is really positive news for local patients. It means they get to go home quicker and feeling more comfortable, and they get their results sooner.”

Mr Paul Harvey, 71, from Copthorne, underwent a prostate biopsy last month, and is urging others not to delay their diagnostic procedures. He said: “At the beginning of my prostate journey I recall my GP telling me that many men are reluctant to have or decline a prostate biopsy. It is not the most dignified procedure, though very necessary. When I came in for an MRI of my prostate in July I was treated with the utmost respect and dignity. I had my procedure early August, it was straightforward, quick and pain-free. I received my results by telephone and Mr Mukhtar’s explanations about follow up care were detailed, easily understandable and timescales were clearly defined. I felt positive, informed and reassured. I couldn’t have wished for better.

“It’s been a horrendous year with COVID-19 resulting in challenges for all of the NHS. When I visited the hospital I felt safe, it was clean and everyone was wearing masks as I walked along the corridors. Thank you very much to everyone at East Surrey Hospital. If this encourages just one person to have the procedure, then sharing my story would be worth it.”