High Intensity Focused Ultrasound (HIFU) uses precision-focused ultrasound waves to raise the temperature of the targeted cancerous tissue to more than 80 to 90 degrees Celsius in two to three seconds, effectively destroying the cancerous cells. The procedure is done with epidural anesthesia which is a form of local anesthesia in which anesthesia is injected through a needle placed in the low, middle part of the back.
Generally, the best candidates are men who might otherwise expect to live at least 10 more years and whose cancer is confined to the prostate.
Advantages of HIFU:
- It can potentially cure the cancer.
- The procedure can be given in one to three hours on an outpatient basis.
- Follow up PSA tests can be used to determine if the cancer has been completely removed.
- The treatment can be repeated; and other treatments are still possible if the cancer recurs locally.
Disadvantages of HIFU:
- The procedure provides no way of knowing if the cancer is localized because the prostate cancer cannot be pathologically staged.
- The procedure is still under clinical study by the FDA and is not available in the United States. Patients must travel overseas for treatment.
- Although some European studies suggest success rates similar to those for radiation therapy, US statistics on survival rates and possible long-term side effects are not yet available.