HIFU is a state-of-the-art treatment for prostate cancer which is both radiation-free and does not require a surgical incision. This guide is an education introduction to HIFU and its advantages.
What is HIFU?
HIFU is short for High Intensity Focused Ultrasound. Sound waves of a high intensity are focused on a specific point (focal point), which creates heat to destroy targeted tissue. In quickly elevating the temperature of the focal point to almost 195ºF, the heat destroys the targeted tissue while leaving surrounding tissue unharmed. This state-of-the-art method has proven effective in the treatment of prostate cancer, with the added benefit of being radiation-free and requiring no surgical incisions.
How Does HIFU Work?
HIFU works by targeting high intensity ultrasound waves toward the prostate through an endorectal probe. Because the point of focus is the prostate, ultrasound waves travel through rectal tissue without causing any damage to the rectum. Consider a magnifying glass, which can heat up materials it is used to focus sun rays. Material within the focal point is affected, but there is no effect outside of that specific point of intersection. While the magnifying glass uses light as its energy source, HIFU uses sound and a transducer to demonstrate the same scientific principle.
What Are the Advantages of HIFU?
HIFU is superior to conventional procedures used to treat prostate cancer in several ways. To start, the treatment is radiation-free, meaning patients do not suffer the difficult and debilitating side-effects that can be associated with radiation treatments. As HIFU is non-ionizing, the procedure can be performed several times and can be used in the event that other treatment methods prove ineffective. Furthermore, HIFU does not involve a surgical procedure, making it an easier procedure for patients to undergo. It does not require a long hospital stay or recovery period, and anesthetics are not even needed. Finally, HIFU’s specific targeting, which is harmless to surrounding tissues, is proven to reduce the risk of side effects like impotence and incontinence which may result from the use of other treatment methods.
What is the HIFU Procedure?
The standard treatment method is called the Sonablate procedure. In this procedure, the prostate gland is completely destroyed. This method is preferable for patients whose cancer is confined only to the prostate gland. As a result of the Sonablate procedure, 92% percent of men were satisfactorily treated. Sonablate can also be used on men who have been previously treated for prostate cancer with different treatments. Focal HIFU, on the other hand, targets only the tumor, not the entire gland, and has an 89% success rate for “trifecta state,” in which the cancer is control and incontinence and impotency are avoided.
HIFU can help to quickly target tumorous cells in the prostate, and with the use of focused sound waves, eliminate the cancerous tissue without harming surrounding tissue. Thanks to HIFU, men can fight cancer and get back to everyday life.