High frequency ultrasound

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Prostate cancer is the most common cancer in men in the UK. Apart from the mainstay treatment options (surgery, radiotherapy, hormone therapy, watchful waiting), there are several minimally invasive treatments now under evaluation which may prove to be of equivalent effectiveness in the long term. One of these options is the use of high frequency ultrasound (also known as high intensity focused ultrasound, hence HIFU). This treatment is recommended for patients with localized cancer who are not good candidates for a prostatectomy (age, general health condition). It can be also used  as a "salvage" treatment for patients whose cancer has come  back (locally) after external radiotherapy.

How it works:

The treatment is performed transrectally, using ultrasound imaging guidance only. The diagnostic machine first maps the tumour, then focusing on a small section of the affected area at a time, delivers powerful sound waves which results in an increase in temperature to a point where destruction of the abnormal tissue occurs. This heating process kills cancerous cells present in the prostate within seconds without destroying any surrounding healthy tissue. By moving the focal point between each "shot" it is possible to destroy a volume that includes the whole prostate. For a prostate cancer treatment to be successful, it needs to be able to destroy the malignancy and at the same time preserve the vital functions of surrounding organs, such as the normal bladder emptying, preservation of continence and erectile function. This fairly new treatment option has the potential of causing as little damage to the surrounding tissue and organs as possible.

Advantages of HIFU:

Disadvantages of HIFU:

For more detailed information about high frequency ultrasound click here.

Further general information Your doctors and specialist nurses are in an ideal position to give you relevant information on your disease and treatment as they know your individual circumstances. Cancerbackup has a help line (0808 800 1234) and a prize winning video available in English, Italian, Urdu, Bengali, Gujarati & Hindi explaining Radiotherapy & Chemotherapy. Cancernet.co.uk has over 500 pages describing cancer, its management, practical tips and tool which patients, their carers and their doctors have found helpful during the cancer journey.


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