High-intensity focused ultrasound (HIFU) is a new type of prostate cancer treatment that uses ultrasound waves to locate, heat, and destroy cancer cells. HIFU differs from surgery or radiation because it is considered non-invasive and doesn’t damage nearby healthy tissue.
You may be familiar with ultrasounds used for other medical purposes, such as providing imaging during pregnancy. HIFU is the same concept, except the ultrasound energy is more intense and more focused. The highly focused energy causes the temperature to rise, and the heat ultimately kills the prostate cancer cells. Interestingly, the HIFU ultrasound waves can pass through different layers of tissue and only target the cancer cells. This means that the healthy tissue is not impacted during treatment.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved HIFU to destroy prostate tissue. It has been approved for use in nearly 50 countries, including the United States. To date, over 65,000 men outside of the United States have used HIFU to treat their prostate cancer.
There are currently two situations that a patient may benefit from HIFU treatment including:
An alternative to active surveillance for patients with early-stage prostate cancer.
An alternative to or as a follow-up to surgery, radiation, or other failed treatment for small tumors located only in the prostate.
Before the treatment starts, you’ll be given an enema so that your bowels are empty during the procedure. You’ll also be advised not to eat or drink for at least six hours before your scheduled treatment. A catheter will be inserted into your penis and through your bladder to collect any urine during the treatment.
During HIFU treatments, a small ultrasound probe is inserted into your rectum while you are under anesthesia. The probe is positioned appropriately to locate the prostate, where an imaging transducer located in the probe creates a 3D map of the entire prostate. From there, the urologist uses this imaging to create the best treatment plan. During the specified treatment, the ultrasound waves are used to destroy the identified prostate cancer cells.
Each ultrasound beam destroys about one rice-grain size of tissue at a time. The treatment is complete once all of the cancer cells have been destroyed. The entire process usually takes between one to four hours, depending on the size of the treatment area. Once the urologist is confident that the treatment is complete, an MRI or ultrasound is used to look at the treatment results.
Once the anesthesia wears off, you’ll likely be able to go home. In some instances, the catheter is kept in place for about a week before the doctor removes it.
HIFU is non-surgical, non-invasive, and doesn’t require radiation. It is performed in an outpatient setting and requires only a short recovery time. Most people return to regular activities within 24 hours following their treatment. Since it is a targeted treatment, it means that healthy tissue is left unharmed. Plus, the risk for urinary incontinence or erectile dysfunction is lower in comparison to other treatment options.
HIFU is known for having fewer side effects than other treatment options, but some side effects and complications may occur. Some men indicate that they have difficulty getting an erection, urinating, and may have leaking in between bathroom visits. However, these issues usually pass on their own with time.
Other potential side effects and complications that may last longer include:
Urinary tract infection
Burning during urination
Rectal wall injury
Burning or bleeding because of the probe
Recurrence of prostate cancer
The outlook for patients treated with HIFU depends on many factors, including, but not limited to, your overall health, prostate cancer recurrence, and the stage of your cancer once you begin treatment. Treatment varies for each patient. Your urologist and medical team will work with you to determine if HIFU is an option.
Do you want to select a prostate cancer treatment based on convenience or cure rate? In addition, HIFU is unlikely to destroy prostate cancer cells that may have escaped the prostate through microscopic capsule penetration.
If you have been recently diagnosed with prostate cancer, it’s critical to personally research prostate cancer treatment options to make an informed decision that is best for you and your family. And, with few exceptions, your first treatment generally gives you the best chance for success.
ProstRcision® has high documented disease-free survival rates using the strictest definition (PSA less than 0.2 ng/ml, 10 years after treatment). This unique approach to eradicating prostate cancer preserves sexual function and maintains urinary control for the vast majority of men. The documented 10-year and 15-year high disease-free survival rates, combined with no cutting of the prostate, and very few side effects are why over 16,000 men from all 50 states, and over 40 countries have chosen ProstRcision.
Make an informed prostate cancer treatment decision. Our 40-page, comprehensive guidebook provides answers to our most frequently asked questions from men diagnosed with prostate cancer, and compares various treatment methods, cure rates and side effects. Our team can also connect you with one of our oncologists at no cost.