Wednesday, May. 25, 2005

New HIFU Prostate Cancer Treatment Reduces Risk Of Side Effects

A revolutionary new treatment for prostate cancer that is not yet available in the United States dramatically reduces the risk of potential side effects like erectile dysfunction and urinary incontinence. NY1’s Cheryl Wills has more in the following report.

It’s not available to American patients yet, but it’s a safe bet that the new treatment for prostate cancer will be in the near future.

It’s called Ablatherm High-Intensity Focused Ultrasound, also known as HIFU. The minimally invasive procedure, which is available in Europe and recently Canada, has a substantially lower risk of side effects typically associated with prostate cancer treatments.

“It works by directing a beam of ultrasound into the prostate, and by superheating the tissue you kill the tumor,” says Dr. John Warner, a urologic oncologist. “If you look at Europe right now, you’re looking at centers who traditionally relied mainly on surgery or mainly on radiation, and subsequently these centers are now opening up with HIFU because it gives excellent results comparable with surgery, with fewer complications.”

While surgery and radiation have higher risks of impotence and incontinence, with HIFU the risk for incontinence is eight percent, and for sexual dysfunction, it’s 22 percent. Both numbers are dramatically lower than conventional treatments.

The procedure takes between one and a half to three hours, depending on the size of the prostate and can be done on an outpatient basis.

A HIFU study conducted in Europe with 137 patients showed that 93 percent of patients had negative biopsies and 87 percent had Prostatic Specific Antigen (PSA) levels of less than one point five years after having the Ablatherm HIFU treatment.

“My PSA prior to the HIFU treatment in Europe was 24, and it had dramatically fallen to .07,” says patient Nick Drossos.

HIFU can also be performed on patients who have undergone radiation treatment in the past and experienced recurrent cancer.

Toronto is currently the only city in North America that has an HIFU facility. An American company called Healthronics has the rights to HIFU and is currently pursuing pre-market approval with the Food and Drug Administration.

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