What is HIFU for Prostate Cancer?
High-intensity focused ultrasound (HIFU) is a prostate cancer treatment option. It’s a non-invasive substitute for surgery and/or radiation therapy. It’s most beneficial for men with early-stage prostate cancer or those experiencing recurrent prostate cancer.
How HIFU Works
HIFU uses ultrasound waves that are precisely focused on the tumor. The ultrasound waves heat the cancerous tissue, destroying it. This minimally invasive method accurately targets cancer cells while sparing the healthy tissue nearby. Generally done as an outpatient treatment, HIFU offers a shorter recovery period and fewer side effects than conventional treatments.
General anesthesia or a spinal epidural is administered to prepare for the procedure. Ultrasound imaging is used by the urologist to visualize the prostate and to guide the HIFU waves accurately.
A device such as the Sonoblate HIFU machine is used to generate high-intensity ultrasound waves. This heats the cancerous cells, destroying them. The body then absorbs the cancer cells. The precision of the beams and the real-time imaging with the ultrasound probe ensure only the tumor is targeted.
Patients usually spend a few hours recovering from anesthesia after the procedure but can generally return home on the same day.
Mild discomfort and urinary symptoms may be experienced, though these usually go away within a few weeks. It’s common for most men to return to their activities soon after the procedure.
Advantages of HIFU for Prostate Cancer
HIFU has several advantages over other prostate cancer treatments.
- Non-Invasive: There are no incisions or surgical sites that need to heal after the procedure, as with traditional surgeries to remove the prostate gland.
- Precise Targeting: By focusing solely on the cancerous areas within the prostate, HIFU lessens the damage to healthy tissue. This lowers the risk of side effects like incontinence and erectile dysfunction, as may occur with surgical interventions.
- Reduced Side Effects: When compared to surgery and radiation therapy, there is a lower risk of erectile dysfunction and urinary incontinence, which are common concerns among prostate cancer patients treated in more traditional manners.
- Outpatient Procedure: As an outpatient procedure, HIFU allows for a return to home on the same day, eliminating the need for extended hospital stays. The number of visits needed is much less than radiation treatment.
- Repeatable: HIFU can be administered again if the prostate cancer returns.
Should I Get HIFU Treatment For Prostate Cancer?
HIFU can be an excellent treatment option, though it isn’t appropriate for all prostate cancer patients. Several factors are used to determine if HIFU is suitable for the patient. These include:
- Cancer Stage: HIFU is more effective against localized or early-stage prostate cancer. Larger or more aggressive tumors may not respond well to HIFU.
- Prostate Size: While HIFU can treat prostates of various sizes, effectiveness decreases for men with particularly large prostates.
- Patient Age and Health: A patient’s overall health status is an important consideration, as they need to be healthy enough for anesthesia.
Exploring HIFU Treatment for Prostate Cancer
High-intensity focused ultrasound (HIFU) may be the right treatment for prostate cancer if you have been diagnosed with early-stage or have a recurrence. It's a non-invasive, precise option that comes with fewer side effects. If prostate cancer is a concern for you or a loved one, talk to your urologist today about HIFU.
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