The next generation of prostate cancer treatment:
High-intensity focused ultrasound (HIFU)
by Michael J. Lazar, MD
Prostate cancer is the leading form of solid organ cancer in the U.S. and the fourth most common form of cancer in the world. According to the U.S. National Institutes of Health, the U.S. had more than 27,000 deaths in 2009 due to prostate cancer, which usually strikes older men. Those diagnosed with prostate cancer and explored treatment options have been faced with some difficult choices:
- Which treatment is likely to be most effective?
- Which has the fewest associated risks?
- What are the side effects?
Traditional treatments include: radiation therapy, surgery, freezing the cancerous gland, hormonal therapy and chemotherapy. Physicians base treatment recommendations on many factors such as tumor size, spread of the disease and the patient’s medical status and history. Fortunately, advances in research and technology have produced another non-invasive option with relatively few side effects: High-intensity focused ultrasound, or HIFU. As with other treatment options, urologists carefully screen patients before recommending this option to make sure they are an appropriate candidate for HIFU.
HIFU treatment is advanced medical technology that uses ultrasound to rapidly and precisely apply heat at a level that is lethal to prostate tissue. It destroys the entire prostate gland or focuses only on the cancerous portion of it. This highly localized treatment leaves the surrounding tissue unharmed.