For the 220,000 or so American men who are diagnosed annually with prostate cancer, the potential side effects of treatment may sometimes be more intimidating than this often slow-growing disease itself. A new procedure poised for approval in the United States may offer a way to battle prostate cancer while lessening side effect risks in the process.
Known as high-intensity focused ultrasound, or HIFU, the treatment provides a highly targeted way to attack prostate cancer tumors. It uses focused heat waves that are targeted directly at prostate tumors. The waves are able to destroy the portion of the prostate gland that is impacted by a tumor without damaging tissue outside the region.
“Tissue-sparing techniques offer men a great deal of hope for battling cancer without necessarily having to pay the price in unsavory side effects,” says Dr. Gregory Echt, founder and lead surgeon at the Prostate Seed Institute. “This new procedure, nearing final review, offers that ability in many, but not all cases.”
Research has found that the new HIFU treatment is able to effectively destroy cancer cells while helping about 80 percent of the men who undergo it avoid such side effects as erectile dysfunction and urinary flow concerns. Other current treatment options present side effects in about 40 to 50 percent of the men who undergo them.
“Prostate cancer treatment has come a very long way in recent years,” says Dr. Echt. “From targeted seed implants, such as those associated with Brachytherapy, to the new HIFU options, men will find there are more choices now than ever before. The key, however, lies in developing a treatment plan that’s targeted to the individual man and the nature of his tumor. Treatment is just not a one-size-fits-all proposition.”
To find out more about available prostate cancer treatments, men are urged to discuss their care at length with a qualified physician.