Philip C. Keevil, MA (Oxon), MBA, FRSA, became involved with focused ultrasound in 2019 when he became an advisor to the United States Focused Ultrasound Foundation after he and his wife sold their New York apartment and bought a house in Charlottesville. He now serves as Chairman of the newly formed UK Focused Ultrasound Foundation (UK FUSF). Mr. Keevil spent more than 40 years in investment banking, in New York and London, specializing in cross-border mergers and acquisitions. He is a dual British and American citizen and was formerly vice chairman of the British American Chamber of Commerce. He is a member of the advisory council of the London Symphony Orchestra, was a founding member of the Business Advisory Forum of Oxford’s Saïd Business School, and previously a director of Americans for Oxford. He has been a governor or trustee of two schools in the US and one in England. Mr. Keevil is also a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts, a Freeman of the City of London, and a former master of one of its livery companies. He holds an MA degree with honors from Oxford and an MBA degree with high distinction from Harvard. How did you come to be involved with the Focused Ultrasound Foundation? My son Adrian introduced me to Dr. Neal Kassell, as he probably felt that I didn’t have enough to occupy my time! Like so many who meet Neal and learn about the amazing potential for focused ultrasound technology to save lives, I was inspired to do my bit to advance the cause. I already knew a fair amount about the pharma industry, as I had several pharma clients, and I could see how focused ultrasound could fit into the picture, provide solutions and save – or improve the quality of – many lives. I became an advisor for the Focused Ultrasound Foundation in 2019. Why are you passionate about leading the UK FUSF? We have an unrivaled opportunity to move the needle in UK healthcare and issue in a new dawn by aiding in the treatment of intractable diseases of the brain, such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s, and saving or improving the lives of many cancer sufferers. What are the primary goals of the UK FUSF? Like the Foundation in the US, our mission is to accelerate adoption of focused ultrasound as the standard of care for many diseases. I am focused on building on advances in UK research by increasing local support for the many leading researchers and clinicians here. We are also actively establishing partnerships with UK-based, disease-specific charities and generally spreading the word. What do you tell others who are interested in focused ultrasound? I provide them with basic information via the website and tell them what focused ultrasound is and what it can do. I try to ascertain which diseases most concern them and then direct them to specific information about the stages of focused ultrasound treatment for those diseases (e.g., research, clinical trials, or actual treatment). How can others get involved and support the UK FUSF? By supporting our work financially or by simply spreading the word. Our biggest challenge in the UK is lack of awareness, not just among patients and their friends and loved ones, but even among physicians and consultant specialists.
More than 50,000 men in the UK are diagnosed with prostate cancer each year. In Paul Sayer’s case, the cancer was aggressive – and his surgeon said the best chance of survival was a major operation called a prostatectomy, to completely remove the prostate. They could get him into the surgical theatre within ten days. And yet, Paul was concerned that the procedure might render him incontinent and impotent – for the foreseeable future at least – as the surgery often leaves men with long-term erectile dysfunction, and four in ten will still need an incontinence pad after a year. The alternative, he was told, was a procedure called radiotherapy. But there were similar risks and less chance of a cure. Paul mentioned to his consultants that he had read about yet another option: high-intensity focused ultrasound (HIFU). The scalpel-free treatment involves energy beams that blast tumour cells with pinpoint accuracy. And the biggest benefit is that almost no patients suffer the incontinence or sexual problems that often accompany a major operation. “The way I understood it, HIFU attacks the tumour directly without damaging anything else. And because of this, there was less chance of damaging the nerves around the prostate that control continence and erections, which appealed to me,” said Paul. Despite his local consultants telling him that HIFU was unsuited to his cancer (and only in trials), Paul decided to contact and meet the HIFU surgeon he’d read about, Professor Hashim Ahmed, a consultant surgeon at Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust. Dr. Ahmed told him that he was a candidate for HIFU. Armed with this information, Paul asked his GP to refer him for treatment. “My GP hadn’t heard of HIFU for prostate cancer but agreed.” The noninvasive HIFU procedure was carried out in July 2018. Paul says, “I was out of hospital that night. I had a catheter for a week and after that, I just got on with my life. I didn’t suffer any complications at all. And, although I’m having regular tests to monitor things, the cancer is gone.” In fact, Paul just reached the all-important five-year landmark this summer. Meanwhile, Paul has turned his illness into a campaigning charity called Prost8 UK (www.prost8.org.uk), which he founded in 2018, just a few months after his initial diagnosis. Now Prost8 UK is focused on increasing awareness of this revolutionary and minimally invasive treatment (which is available on the NHS) and also funding and delivering HIFU units into hospitals. Explains Paul, “In the next ten years alone, up to 600,000 men in the UK will receive a new prostate cancer diagnosis; caught early, about a third of these will be suited to a minimally invasive treatment option – just like me! However, if things stay as they are, almost all of those many thousands of men will receive the same treatments as men with advanced cancer, and that just cannot be allowed to happen.” Men must say no to overtreatment, to avoid dramatic and unnecessary impact on quality of life like erectile dysfunction and urinary incontinence. They need to know that alternative treatment options, like HIFU, are out there and can change their lives and save their lifestyles.”
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