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HIFU Might Not be the Answer for Prostate Cancer Treatment

High-intensity focused ultrasound has proven itself useful in a number of applications. So far, however, prostate cancer is not one of them. Even so, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has given the green light for this treatment’s use for the ablation of prostate tissue. This approval has some clinicians concerned.

Previous studies have shown that HIFU is not entirely effective as a treatment for localized prostate cancer. One study, in fact, showed that men treated with HIFU had a rather high rate of positive biopsies after two years. The rate, in fact, was 28 percent.

While a number of questions related to the approval still exist, the FDA has said the treatment is safe for use in ablating prostate tissue. Some clinicians warn, however, that men should be aware that this treatment may not be the “cure” they’re after. There are also some concerns that men will be used as guinea pigs to gain a better understanding of the treatment’s effectiveness.

Prostate cancer affects an estimated 180,000 American men each year. Some 26,000 men die from the disease annually. All men are at risk for this disease, which is why routine screening is recommended starting in a man’s middle years. This form of cancer is considered highly treatable in many cases, especially when it is detected in its earliest phases.

Men who are diagnosed with prostate cancer will find a wide variety of treatments available to them. Some of the more common options include surgery and radiation. Highly targeted radiation treatments like prostate seed implants and proton therapy may also be options for effectively treating the disease while lowering side effect risks.

Men who are concerned about prostate cancer should speak with their healthcare providers. Doctors can help men assess their risks while offering insights on when early screening should begin.