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Ultrasound and Prostate Cancer: A New Treatment Emerges

Men with localized prostate cancer may find a new treatment available to them that helps reduce the need for surgery while battling the disease. High intensity focused ultrasound, or HIFU for short, has shown promise in treating specific cases while also reducing the potential for side effects associated with other intervention options.

HIFU involves a highly targeted treatment that pinpoints the area of the prostate gland where cancer is present. The sound waves produced by the therapy are delivered through an ultrasound probe that is heated to 80 Celsius. The treatment is typically performed on an outpatient basis and has been shown effective in killing off cancer cells.

Approved for use in 2015 by the FDA, this form of treatment is still not widely available. It is, however, fast becoming an option for men who wish to reduce side effect risks during the treatment of low-risk, localized prostate cancer. HIFU has produced an 86 percent, 5-year success rate in studies related to its used on low-stage prostate cancers. An estimated 80 percent of men treated with HIFU have remained cancer-free even longer.

HIFU is associated with a lower frequency of side effects, such as those connected to the bladder, than other interventions. Even so, there is no guarantee that erectile dysfunction or incontinence won’t be concerns after treatment, clinicians warn.

Men who are diagnosed with prostate cancer should talk to their doctors about all treatment options. Where available, HIFU may help men avoid surgery while still providing them a viable option for beating the disease. The best treatment option, however, will depend on the specifics unique to a man’s case.

An estimated 160,000 American men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer in the coming year. Men are urged to talk about this condition and their personal risks with their healthcare providers. Routine screening may lead to early detection and highly successful treatment of this condition.