Gone are the days of time-consuming, invasive treatment options with long recovery times. As medicine and technology continue to progress, doctors and patients alike prioritize minimally and non-invasive treatment options whenever possible. Laparoscopic surgery, medications, and other treatments lead the way, but high-intensity focused ultrasound (HIFU) is gaining momentum as a preferred treatment for prostate cancer.
Dr. David Silver is the Chief of Urology at Maimonides Medical Center and the Director of the Maimonides Prostate Center. Under his leadership, Maimonides began offering non-invasive HIFU treatment to prostate cancer patients in 2019. This non-invasive approach to prostate cancer makes it popular among patients and providers, and the perfect topic for Prostate Cancer Awareness Month.
Patients Have a Lower Risk of Incontinence and Impotence with HIFU
In addition to being non-invasive, HIFU helps patients avoid negative side effects that are common among more invasive prostate cancer treatments like radiation and surgery. “HIFU destroys prostate tumors without treating the entire prostate,” Dr. Silver explains. “Limiting the amount of prostate treated limits the risk of life-altering side effects like incontinence and impotence.”
The risk of impotence after HIFU is only 12–20%, whereas it reaches up to 50% for radiation or surgery that affect the whole prostate, according to Dr. Silver. This makes HIFU treatment ideal for patients who don’t want to lose their bladder control or sacrifice their sex life. Arguably, this leads to a better quality of life for patients who have successful treatment. However, this doesn’t mean HIFU doesn’t have any side effects.
“The most common side effects of HIFU include infertility due to ejaculatory duct blockage and voiding symptoms from post-ablation swelling of the prostate.” But these symptoms are also common among patients who receive other treatments for prostate cancer.
HIFU: A Paradigm Shift in Cancer Treatment
Less invasive cancer treatment isn’t limited to prostate cancer alone. In fact, this more conservative approach to treatment is popular among other types of cancer, like breast cancer, which prostate cancer treatment trends parallel. “Treating only as much of the prostate as necessary to control the tumor relies heavily upon accurate imaging and dependably accurate biopsy strategies.”
HIFU and other less invasive treatment protocols make way for improved outcomes and shorter recovery times. “Most patients can return to work 1–2 days after HIFU, but returning to full activities may take several weeks.” That’s a win for both patients and providers.