Prostate cancer is the number one cancer affecting men in North America. Approximately 1 in 6 men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer in their lifetime. It is therefore no wonder that alternative treatments to surgery and radiation have been so in demand. One newer treatment method that is proving to be safe and effective in treating organ confined prostate cancer is HIFU.
High Intensity Focused Ultrasound- HIFU
HIFU is a procedure developed to destroy cancer cells in the prostate gland.
Cancer cells mass together into tumors. The cells, being abnormal, live longer than healthy cells, reproduce and multiply creating more abnormal cells; hence the reason they grow into masses called tumors.
The HIFU device uses focused ultrasound waves to heat the tissue in these tumors to 80°C and destroy them.
The procedure is non-invasive. No surgical means are required and no incisions are made.
HIFU patients are laid on their sides and anesthetized. The HIFU probe is inserted into the patient’s rectum until it is next to the prostate. An MRI scan of the prostate is taken to map out the interior of the gland. Masses of tissue, or tumors, are identified. The information on the location and size of any tumors found are fed into the device’s computer. These regions are then targeted for the HIFU treatment.
The HIFU device then sends a pulse at each of these zones. The tissue affected is heated and destroyed. Healthy tissue adjacent to the heated area is left untouched because the HIFU device only affects a few cubic mm of area with each pulse.
If a patient’s entire prostate gland has been infected with cancer, the whole of the area can be heated and destroyed. To scan and target the entire gland would take up to 3 or 4 hours.
After all the scanning and targeting is complete, the patient has a catheter installed and is left to recover from the effects of the anesthetic. When the anesthetic is worn off, the patient is allowed to go home until a follow-up appointment after two weeks. There are no restrictions placed on the patient’s diet as a result of the HIFU treatment. Any restrictions prescribed by the patient’s doctor prior to the treatment would still be in effect.
An antibiotic is prescribed to last for 2 weeks to deal with any chance of infection that may result.
Doctors expect some immediate after effects as a result of this procedure. The prostate gland will swell from the effects of the HIFU treatment. Some urinary incontinence is expected because of the swelling. In addition, some patients experience some bleeding into the urine stream, usually only at the beginning of the urine stream.
After the 2 weeks, the catheter is removed. Urinary function is expected to be normal by this time.
Blood samples are taken to test for PSA levels at the follow-up appointment and again every 3 months, likely for about a year. It is expected that PSA levels will rise for the first 3 to 6 months. After that they are expected to return to normal.
Tissue samples may be taken and submitted for biopsy after about a year to determine the effectiveness of the treatment.
Catch It In The Early Stages
As long as the prostate cancer is confined to the prostate gland it can be treated using HIFU. The cure rate for men with prostate confined cancer is as high as 90%.
HIFU for prostate cancer is an effective and curative procedure with no reduction in quality of life and fewer significant side effects. Find out if you are a candidate for Ablatherm HIFU.