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How does high-intensity focused ultrasound (HIFU) work?

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If you've ever used a magnifying glass to reflect the sun's rays and start a tiny fire or burn a hole into a leaf or other focused area, you already have an idea of how high-intensity focused ultrasound (HIFU) works. Instead of light rays, though, HIFU uses sound waves that a doctor points through the wall of your rectum -- the bottom part of your large intestine. He'll direct the waves at your cancer cells.

The sound waves heat up to temperatures as high as 90°F and can kill cancer cells in just a few seconds. Doctors use magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and ultrasound imaging to tell them exactly where the tumor is and where to point the sound waves.

From: What Is a HIFU Procedure? WebMD Medical Reference

SOURCES:

American Cancer Society: "Key statistics for prostate cancer."

University of California, Los Angeles: "High Intensity Focused Ultrasound (HIFU)."

Diagnostic and Interventional Radiology : "Image-guided focal therapy for prostate cancer."

European Urology : "Focal High Intensity Focused Ultrasound of Unilateral Localized Prostate cancer: A Prospective Multicentric Hemiablation Study of 111 Patients."

MD Anderson Cancer Center: "Ablation Therapy," "Heating and Freezing Used to Destroy Prostate Cancer Cells."

Christopher Saigal, MD, vice chairman of urology, David Geffen School of Medicine, UCLA.

Harvard Medical School: "FDA panel rejects high intensity focused ultrasound for early prostate cancer."

American Cancer Society: "What's new in prostate cancer research?"

Journal of the American Medical Associatio n: "High-Intensity Focused Ultrasound for Prostate Cancer: Novelty or Innovation?"

Future Oncology : "MRI-guided focal therapy of prostate cancer."

Cancer Research UK: "High intensity focal ultrasound (HIFU)."

UCLA Health: "UCLA offers high-intensity focused ultrasound treatment for prostate cancer."

Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center: "Focal Therapies for Prostate Cancer."

Reviewed by Melinda Ratini on February 21, 2019

SOURCES:

American Cancer Society: "Key statistics for prostate cancer."

University of California, Los Angeles: "High Intensity Focused Ultrasound (HIFU)."

Diagnostic and Interventional Radiology : "Image-guided focal therapy for prostate cancer."

European Urology : "Focal High Intensity Focused Ultrasound of Unilateral Localized Prostate cancer: A Prospective Multicentric Hemiablation Study of 111 Patients."

MD Anderson Cancer Center: "Ablation Therapy," "Heating and Freezing Used to Destroy Prostate Cancer Cells."

Christopher Saigal, MD, vice chairman of urology, David Geffen School of Medicine, UCLA.

Harvard Medical School: "FDA panel rejects high intensity focused ultrasound for early prostate cancer."

American Cancer Society: "What's new in prostate cancer research?"

Journal of the American Medical Associatio n: "High-Intensity Focused Ultrasound for Prostate Cancer: Novelty or Innovation?"

Future Oncology : "MRI-guided focal therapy of prostate cancer."

Cancer Research UK: "High intensity focal ultrasound (HIFU)."

UCLA Health: "UCLA offers high-intensity focused ultrasound treatment for prostate cancer."

Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center: "Focal Therapies for Prostate Cancer."

Reviewed by Melinda Ratini on February 21, 2019

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What happens during a high-intensity focused ultrasound (HIFU) procedure?

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