Receiving a diagnosis of prostate cancer can be crushing, but the good news is thanks to early diagnosis and a number of different treatments, the mortality rate is relatively low. For many, HIFU treatment is an option worth investigating. So what then is HIFU treatment and what can those who undergo HIFU expect?
What is HIFU?
HIFU – High Intensity Focused Ultrasound – is the focusing of sound waves to create heat at a specific point. Heat effectively destroys the targeted tissue in this focal point. This method of prostate ablation was recently approved by the FDA in 2015; however, it has been available outside the U.S. for more than a decade to treat localized prostate cancer and prostate enlargement.
HIFU vs. Other Methods of Cancer Treatment
One of the greatest things about HIFU is that it is completely radiation free. Unlike most cancer radiation treatments, HIFU is a non-ionizing energy source that can be applied repeatedly as necessary. HIFU is as effective as other treatments for prostate cancer with less risk of side effects, plus patients can pursue other treatment options after HIFU.
The HIFU Procedure
Under general anesthetic to reduce movement, patients are made as comfortable as possible before the procedure as the entire prostate is exposed to HIFU, including the urethra. The length of the procedure depends largely on the size of the prostate gland – larger glands will take more time to treat completely. Patients can estimate the length of procedure by calculating 1 hour for every 10 grams of tissue that needs to be treated, averaging about 1.5- 4 hours. While side effects are few, some patients do experience incontinence and erectile dysfunction.
Do You Qualify for HIFU Treatment?
If you’re concerned about your prostate health, it’s important to meet with your primary care physician or urologist. Only a doctor can determine if you’re eligible for HIFU or not; most often, doctors will typically recommend HIFU for men whose cancer is localized (meaning that it has not spread outside the prostate gland) and weighs less than 40 grams. Doctors also look for other signs to qualify a patient for HIFU. To be sure, they will perform tests to ensure that the PSA is 20 or less and the Gleason score is 7 or less.
If you are interested in learning more about HIFU treatment or to see if you qualify, contact Urologic Surgeons of Arizona. Dr. Kashif Alvi is a Harvard trained urologist who uses the latest treatment options to provide superior urologic care and treatment to patients with a variety of urological problems ranging from prostate cancer, kidney stones, BPH, and urinary incontinence. To learn more about prostate health, call the office of Urologic Surgeons of Arizona at (480) 409-5060 to schedule an appointment, or request an appointment online.