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How HIFU Prostate Cancer Treatment Works

If you’ve been diagnosed with prostate cancer, you know that some of the options for treatments can be quite invasive. Fortunately, there is a treatment called high intensity focused ultrasound (HIFU) therapy that can help you avoid some of the more invasive treatments and still be effective at treating the cancer. Here’s what you need to know about HIFU for prostate cancer treatment.

Diagnosis

What Is HIFU?

As mentioned, HIFU uses ultrasound waves to target cancerous cells. The ultrasound waves are directed at the cancerous tissue to heat and kill the cancer cells. One reason this treatment is called “noninvasive” is because it requires no incision and it doesn’t affect the healthy tissue surrounding the cancerous area.

How Does HIFU Work?

A HIFU procedure takes 1 to 4 hours, and like other operations, the bowels will be emptied. General anesthesia is used since the ultrasound probe is inserted in the rectum. The sound waves create a picture of the prostate gland on a computer screen so that the doctor can see where to send the sound waves. The urologist precisely plans where to send the waves, down to the millimeter, and then a robotic arm is used to direct the probe to focus sound waves and send them through the rectal wall and into the gland. These high intensity sound waves heat the tissue to 80 degrees Celsius, which kills the cancerous tissue. A contrast ultrasound checks the success of the treatment, which is also confirmed with an MRI.

Why Should I Choose HIFU?

HIFU prostate cancer treatment is preferable to other treatments when the conditions are right. It’s more likely to be successful if the cancer is localized to the prostate. It’s also used for patients whose cancer has returned or who have undergone radiation unsuccessfully. HIFU treatment is less risky than surgery and has fewer side effects than both surgery and radiation. There’s less pain and recovery downtime than surgery, and the procedure is almost always done as an outpatient procedure. Most patients experience little or no pain after the treatment. In addition, there is a lower risk of urinary incontinence and erectile dysfunction after HIFU. Another benefit is that other treatments are still available if HIFU treatments aren’t successful in treating the prostate cancer.