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HIFU: A Better Treatment Option for Prostate Cancer

If you have been diagnosed with prostate cancer, has your doctor discussed all the options for treatment? If they haven’t mentioned HIFU, or if they have dismissed it as an option, please seek another opinion. High Intensity Focused Ultrasound (HIFU) remains the least invasive form of prostate cancer treatment, and has the least chance of side effects while retaining an excellent record for cancer control. After HIFU, return to normal activity is usually very rapid, and there are no restrictions against exercise, lifting, or travel.

High Intensity Focused Ultrasound can be delivered to the prostate in one outpatient session lasting 2-3 hours. An ultrasound probe is inserted via the rectum, under general anesthesia, and the ultrasound waves are focused on solely prostate tissue, passing innocently through the rectal wall to their target. The energy delivered immediately destroys the targeted tissue, in a very exact fashion. The prostate is continuously imaged with ultrasound, and the neurovascular bundles, containing the nerves of erection, are clearly visible, and can be spared. In no other therapy can the surrounding structures be carefully visualized and spared, while still achieving successful cancer control. In HIFU, both the urinary sphincter, the bladder, and the nerves of erection can be routinely safeguarded, resulting in an extremely low incidence of incontinence, and an impressively higher rate of preserving erections. HIFU has been in continuous use in Europe and most of the world since 1994. More than 100 papers in peer-reviewed journals attest to the success of cancer control. In the three largest studies from groups in France and Germany, the 5 and 10 year cancer-specific morbidity and mortality was similar to radical prostatectomy. That means that the cancer control was as good as surgery, and better than radiation. HIFU was approved by the FDA for prostate ablation in October 2015. There are applications to treat other organs, including the brain, which are under investigation.

For more information about HIFU, please visit my blog post, “Prostate Cancer: Understanding All the Options.”

Wishing you the best in health,
Clifford Gluck M.D. FACS