New Medical Technology

New Medical Technology Gives Urologists a More Precise Method to Target Diagnosed Areas of the Prostate

We asked Dr. Cary Robertson, M.D. from Duke University Medical Center three questions on the latest development of a new medical technology that gives urologists a more precise method for treating prostate cancer.

Q1: Can you start by explaining why High Intensity Focused Ultrasound (HIFU) is an important option for treating the prostate?

A: More often than not, men with prostate cancer are offered standard choices for treatment including active surveillance, radiation therapy or surgery.

Active surveillance is especially difficult for patients who have been told they have cancer, even if it’s contained within the prostate.  Urologists will typically monitor a patient with low grade disease since this prostate cancer is slow growing and may not progress.  Some patients may prefer to seek treatment, however, and not risk waiting.

If a patient is diagnosed early, with intermediate or high risk prostate cancer confined to the prostate, most urologists recommend radical surgery or radiation therapy. Radical prostatectomy involves removing the entire prostate whereas radiation therapy treats the whole gland in place, but both treatments may cause side effects, including urinary incontinence and erectile dysfunction.

There is a new treatment urologists in the U.S. are beginning to use to treat selected cases of prostate cancer.  It’s called High Intensity Focused Ultrasound (HIFU) and it is FDA approved (October 2015) for prostate tissue ablation. HIFU bridges the gap between active surveillance and radical treatments, allowing patients to maintain their quality of life with minimal morbidity and potentially fewer side effects. This is particularly true if only a focal area of the prostate is ablated.

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