High-Energy Ultrasound Cooks Prostate Tumors
WebMD News Archive
Currently, only about
25% of patients undergo surgery or radiation treatment for their prostate
cancers with all the associated downsides. Others try hormone therapy, which
also has side effects, or simply wait and watch the tumor. Chaussy believes for
some men who don't want other treatments or can't tolerate them, HIFU appears
"We can tell him
what we have available is a technique which has quite good results over a
follow-up of four years. That is not comparable to the statistics, which you
have with radical [surgery]," Chaussy says.
In fact, other surgeons
contacted by WebMD were skeptical of the approach. Patrick Walsh, MD, chief of
urology at Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions, says HIFU can't compete with
surgery until it can bring PSA test scores down to undetectable levels.
However, Chaussy insists that testing tissue samples directly from the gland
are a better predictor of cure.
While acknowledging that
the approach may work for some, K.C. Balaji, MD, says he would tend to
recommend surgery. "Depending on the [severity] ? I would probably have the
most curative solution, which would probably be surgery," he tells WebMD.
Balaji is director of urology oncology at the University of Southern Illinois
School of Medicine.
Meanwhile, the HIFU
approach is not only being investigated in Europe but also here in the U.S. at
hospitals in Washington, Houston, and San Francisco.
A German researcher
reports another option may become available to treat patients with prostate
cancer, joining standard treatments like surgery, radiation, and hormone
therapy. The new technique uses a probe inserted into the rectum so cancer
cells in the nearby prostate gland may be heated and killed with
A recent study showed
nearly 80% of the 440 men treated had a cancer-free follow-up test, or biopsy.
Nearly all had a clear biopsy after a second treatment of high intensity
focused ultrasound, or HIFU.
Doctors still don't
know how HIFU's results will compare to surgery, and some comment that they
would still steer their patients to the surgical route.