HIFU Treatment

High Intensity Focused Ultrasound, or HIFU, is a therapy that destroys tumor tissue with rapid heat elevation which essentially "cooks" the tissue. Ultrasound energy, or sound waves, is focused at a specific location and at that "focal point," the temperature raises to almost 90 degrees Celsius in a matter of seconds. Any tissue at the "focal point" is destroyed, however, any tissue outside of the focal point remains unharmed.
HIFU has produced oncological results, in studies performed outside the United States, that are broadly comparable to standard therapies and HIFU is a minimally invasive prostate cancer therapy that does not use ionizing radiation, which can be potentially harmful. HIFU is the most patient friendly treatment for organ confined prostate cancer in the world. It is available for the treatment of prostate cancer in over one hundred clinical centers in Europe, South America, and Canada, and is currently being used in various clinical trials here in the United States. HIFU while available outside of the USA for more than 15 years is not yet FDA approved and, therefore, not on the list of reimbursable treatments available in the USA although HIFU is approved for uterine fibroids, (a benign disease) in women. Unlike radiation, HIFU is non-ionizing so it can be repeated, if necessary, without damaging healthy tissue. This means that HIFU may also be used as a salvage technique if other prostate cancer treatments fail.
The Sonablate® is the only HIFU device for prostate cancer that does not require a transurethral resection of the prostate (TURP), an invasive, surgical procedure, prior to treatment in order to achieve effective results.

Advantages of HIFU
• No blood loss
• Quick recovery
• Non surgical
• Radiation free
• An outpatient procedure
• Focal or partial gland treatment possible
• Treatment can be repeated if necessary
• Avoids unnecessary spillage of cancer cells

Disadvantages of HIFU
• No long term (20-30 years) outcome data
• Potential risk of impotence
• Potential risk of incontinence
• Other short term urinary and bowel problems
• It is not approved nor covered by Medicare or most US health insurance companies, however it is a tax-deductible medical expense

• Must be contained within the prostate
• Other patient prostate qualifications must be met, including size, stones, density, etc.
• Calcifications in the prostate may limit treatment effectiveness

Note there are varied statistics related to the outcomes from HIFU treatments. Most studies are for complete prostate gland treatment versus focal treatment. This less extensive treatment his means that HIFU is used to treat the areas of the prostate that contain the cancer, rather than treating the whole prostate gland. Early research suggests it might reduce the risk of side effects compared to treating the whole prostate gland, because less of the healthy tissue is damaged.

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