No one is fully prepared for a diagnosis of prostate cancer, but it’s best to seek treatment as soon as possible. If treated while the disease is still localized, or contained within the prostate can increase the number of options available to you.
According to the National Cancer Institute, the second most common type of cancer in males in the U.S. is prostate cancer. It is also the second leading cause of death from cancer in men and occurs more often in African-American men than in other races.
Prostate cancer is typically a slow-growing adenocarcinoma, meaning that it begins in cells that make and release fluids. While this disease doesn’t usually have early warning symptoms, simple screening tests can help identify it and allow you to take a course of action.
In the past, patients with prostate cancer have opted for treatments such as brachytherapy and radiation. A number of them have experienced a rise in their Prostate Specific Antigen (PSA) levels afterward and learn that their cancer has come back. A new type of noninvasive therapy, called a HIFU procedure, may be able to help destroy prostate cancer in certain individuals.
What Is HIFU?
High Intensity Focused Ultrasound, or HIFU, is a localized, noninvasive therapy that uses sound wave energy, also called ultrasound, to destroy diseased tissue. Due to the fact that the sound waves can be pinpointed, healthy tissue is not damaged during the procedure. Tissue affected by cancer cells is subsequently targeted and destroyed by the heat of the focused ultrasound.
HIFU is non-ionizing, unlike radiation. It can be repeated, if necessary, without damage to your existing healthy tissue. If you’ve tried other prostate treatments, but they were ineffective, HIFU can be used as a salvage technique.
What You Should Expect
If you have an enlarged prostate and your Urologist recommends HIFU, they may suggest shrinking the prostate with another form of treatment before the procedure. For example, they may want you to try hormone therapy or a Transurethral Resection of the Prostate, or TURP.
A HIFU is done as an outpatient procedure under local anesthesia. It can take from one to four hours, depending on the size of your prostate. The recovery time is short, meaning that patients are normally walking around within a few hours afterward and return to a normal lifestyle in just a couple of days. The catheter used during the procedure is worn for one to three weeks, depending on your physician’s plan of treatment.
The procedure is repeatable, if deemed necessary by your doctor.
Who Can Benefit from HIFU?
Certain patients may qualify for the HIFU procedure as long as their cancer has not metastasized (spread to other parts of their body). Men who experience a local recurrence after a radical prostatectomy may also be candidates for this procedure. Discuss your individual case with your physician in order to find out whether or not you are a candidate for a HIFU procedure.
No matter what treatment option you choose, give it thorough consideration and make sure you understand all of the risks and benefits of each option. Talk them over with your doctor so that you can plan the most appropriate and effective action to take.