Q: What is HIFU?
A: HIFU stands for High Intensity Focused Ultrasound, which is a minimally invasive technique for treating disease with precise, focused ultrasound waves. When the ultrasound waves are delivered, they raise the temperature of the target tissue to nearly 195 degrees Fahrenheit in 2-3 seconds. This rapid-firing heat destroys the targeted tissue but leaves the surrounding tissue intact.
Q: How does HIFU treat prostate disease?
A: HIFU destroys tissue at each targeted focal point throughout the prostate so the entire gland is ablated at the conclusion of the procedure while healthy structures outside the gland remain unharmed. HIFU uses clean energy, which means that the procedure may be repeated if necessary without damaging other tissue.
Q: What are the results of HIFU treatment?
A: HIFU has been used outside of the United States for more than ten years. Internationally published studies show promising results using HIFU as a cancer treatment that may well reduce risk for significant side effects, such as incontinence and impotence, often common with more aggressive modalities.
Q: What are the recovery times and side effects of HIFU for prostate cancer?
A: Patients can typically return to their normal lifestyle within a few days after the 2-4 hour procedure. Recovery involves retaining an indwelling catheter for approximately 2-3 weeks. All medical procedures have risks and benefits; all potential side effects and complications should be discussed with a physician prior to undergoing any procedure.
Q: Does HIFU treat only the cancer cells? How?
A: Standard HIFU treats the entire prostate gland by targeting tissue in overlapping treatment zones. The tissue is heated rapidly in targets, also known as lesions, throughout the entire gland until it is completely ablated. Focal HIFU, on the other hand, involves treating only the cancerous part of the prostate with HIFU. Focal HIFU may be suitable for patients who have a single tumor within the gland or for patients with multiple tumors that all reside on the same side of the gland.