HIFU treatment

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HIFU stands for High Intensity Focused Ultrasound. Like emerging forms of radiotherapy that focus radiation into a narrow beam, HIFU focuses ultrasound waves so that they hit a target and create an enormous amount of heat. The result is tumor ablation, or the destruction of the tumor, through hyperthermia.

HIFU has applications in the treatment of prostate cancer, specifically in men with unifocal or unilateral prostate cancer (i.e. their cancer is localized to a single tumor within the prostate or multiple small tumors on the same side of the prostate gland). While the treatment can be effective for men with early-stage prostate cancer, the procedure does involve the ablation of the prostate gland, as well as that of the prostatic urethra. While the latter will regenerate, the former will not.

HIFU treatment: Benefits

There are several potential benefits. For example, HIFU treatment:

  • … is of course incision-free, and when you can avoid a surgical procedure and still receive effective treatment, you avoid the potential for internal structural damage and for possible life-threatening infections.
  • … is a comparatively short procedure, lasting no more than a few hours and almost never requiring an overnight hospital stay.
  • … is non-ionizing, meaning it does not expose the patient to any potentially carcinogenic radiation waves.
  • … is performed under local anesthesia.
  • … can be repeated because of the way it does not damage surrounding tissue or put the patient in a higher risk category for developing secondary cancer.

HIFU treatment: approved or unapproved?

Currently in the United States, the FDA has not approved HIFU treatment for prostate cancer. it has only been approved for the treatment of uterine fibroids.

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