What is High-Intensity Focused Ultrasound (HIFU) and how can treat prostate cancer

This breakthrough is a new treatment for prostate cancer called High-Intensity Focused Ultrasound or HIFU. Instead of a scalpel, this treatment uses acoustic sound waves to generate thermal (heat) energy that destroys the degenerated cells of the prostate cancer. The acoustic sound waves super-heat the prostate to a whopping 194 degrees Fahrenheit, killing prostate cancer cells.

How High-Intensity Focused ultrasound waves HIFU kills cancer cells?

This treatment is based on the same principle as hyperthermia (heat) treatments. Cancer clinics throughout Germany use those treatments to treat all sorts of cancers. The principle is that heat kills cancer cells.

German doctors using hyperthermia heat regions of the patient’s body where cancer exists to temperatures upwards of 109 degrees Fahrenheit. But HIFU is much more specific. It heats only the prostate with pinpoint accuracy, so doctors can safely use much, much higher temperatures, giving cancer an even slimmer chance of surviving.
Researchers have found that HIFU kills prostate cancer without causing the common side effects that conventional surgery and radiation cause, such as impotence and urinary incontinence. The reason is that, unlike prostate surgery and radiation, the nerves necessary for erection and bladder control are not affected by HIFU in any way.

The entire HIFU treatment is scalpel-less. It takes about two to three-and-a-half hours, and is done on an outpatient basis. You will undergo general anesthesia during the procedure and you’ll need a catheter for a week or so after treatment. However, most patients usually resume their normal, active lives within two days, and sometimes sooner.

Youtube video about HIFU and Prostate cancer:


HIFU is non-invasive and painless.

HIFU is a relatively new procedure, but the breakthrough behind it is more than 50 years old. Research began at Indiana University in Bloomington in the 1950’s. They studied a special ultrasound device to see if it could deliver enough thermal energy to destroy cancer. Results showed that it could in fact kill cancer cells. And the sound treatment was safe and doctors could repeat it if cancer recurred.

In 1995, a study on modern-day HIFU at the university revealed something even more spectacular: Researchers discovered they could treat the whole prostate without damaging the prostate capsule (the membrane that surrounds the prostate).

This is a tremendous advantage over traditional prostate surgeries that damage the prostate membrane. When the membrane is damaged, often the nerves necessary for erection and the urinary sphincter necessary for bladder control are damaged too. That’s why so many men are becoming impotent and incontinent after conventional prostate treatments! Not only that, urologists say damaging the prostate membrane can "spill” cancer cells into the patient’s bloodstream and spread the disease! "The ability to treat the prostate with virtually no disruption of the capsule avoids unnecessary spillage of cancer cells that is common to radical prostatectomy,” says Dr. Ronald Wheeler, a urologist and HIFU practitioner at the Diagnostic Center for Disease in Sarasota, Florida.52 The 1995 study also found another wonderful benefit. HIFU doesn’t damage the patient’s rectal wall. Damaging it can cause fecal incontinence.

This is a tragic and little-known side effect of conventional IMRT and brachytherapy, with or without External Beam or Proton Beam. These amazing benefits of the HIFU approach bear repeating…

With HIFU treatment men can keep their sexual function, bladder and bowel control.

At first it was hard for me to understand how HIFU could destroy cancerous prostate cells and tissue without at least diminishing sexual function. But then I heard Dr. Wheeler’s explanation (and learned a lot more about male anatomy) and it all made sense. The tissues surrounding your prostate are what’s important to erectile function and bladder control, not the prostate itself. Right outside the prostate membrane are nerves necessary to achieve erection. This is also where the urinary sphincter for bladder control is located. According to Dr. Wheeler, surgery and radiation can damage these areas but the HIFU procedure is far more precise than any kind of radiation or surgical treatment — even more precise than those brand new robotic surgeries, guided by the Da Vinci Robot® . HIFU never reaches outside the prostate membrane so these nerves and the urinary sphincter remain untouched.54 Men have the exact same sexual and bladder function after HIFU as they had before. The only difference is that you may have less ejaculatory fluid. This is due to cell death within the prostate. Regardless, you’ll likely maintain your fertility. Dr. Wheeler’s office reports that his patient’s ejaculatory fluids still contain live sperm. Tests they’ve done on the fluid of post-HIFU men in their 70’s have proven it.

Scientifically Clinical study says that HIFU is safe and effective

Independent clinical studies performed in Germany and Japan reveal that HIFU is a safe and effective treatment for prostate cancer. In Germany, 146 men with Gleason scores of 7 or lower and PSAs of 15 ng/ml or lower were treated with HIFU. Two years later, 93.4 percent had negative biopsies, and 87 percent had PSA levels under 1.0. A Gleason score is used to evaluate the aggressiveness of prostate cancer. Japanese researchers performed their own study and concluded that "High-intensity focused ultrasound therapy appears to be a safe and efficacious minimally invasive therapy for patients with localized prostate cancer.” "Localized” prostate cancer means prostate cancer that hasn’t spread. Japanese researchers found that men with PSA levels under 10 before the procedure had a 94 percent chance of surviving at least three years after treatment.

Ronald Wheeler, M.D. explain in Youtube Video how prostate cancer is treated:


HIFU: A wonderful new option for early prostate cancer
There are many success stories of men who appear to have cured their prostate cancers completely, with no debilitating side effects, using HIFU. The best results are in men with early-stage prostate cancer. Unfortunately, men who have more advanced cases aren’t faring as well. The same research in Germany and Japan shows that when the cancer has spread outside the man’s prostate, or he has a higher PSA or Gleason score, HIFU treatment isn’t as successful. Why? Dr. Wheeler reports that as prostate cancer advances, calcified stones form in your prostate. These stones can "prevent the focused energy from getting to tissue on the other side” or worse, the sound energy can be reflected back toward the rectal wall. In other words, the sound energy is diffused and parts of the prostate never reach the temperature necessary for cancer cells to die. The other interesting part of the story is what happens when you do send HIFU’s energy outside the prostate. Remember, that’s where nerves for erectile function and bladder control are located. It seems that in some men with more advanced cancers, HIFU is resulting in the same side effects as traditional prostate therapies such as incontinence and sexual dysfunction. We might conclude that when HIFU is used to treat cancer that lies outside the prostate capsule, as it often does in advanced cases, HIFU’s heat destroys healthy tissues right along with cancerous ones. From the research it’s clear to me that HIFU may not be for everyone. ”We must not use the one-size-fits-all mentality with HIFU, as often times occurs with radical prostatectomy,” Dr. Wheeler cautions. "As skilled surgeons, we must be able to accept that all men with prostate cancer will not be viable candidates for HIFU for a variety of reasons, and therefore, must encourage them to treat their disease with an alternative.”

Who should get HIFU and who shouldn’t?

Dr. Thomas Gardner, M.D., agrees with Dr. Wheeler. Dr. Gardner is a professor of urology and one of the researchers at Indiana University School Medicine who was involved in FDA clinical trials of HIFU. In an interview in Bottom Line’s Daily Health newsletter, Dr. Gardner says HIFU can be an amazing treatment "in the right hands, among appropriate patients.” He recommends HIFU only for men who have:
  • early-stage (T1 or T2) prostate cancer
  • localized tumors that haven’t spread outside the prostate
  • a Gleason score of six or lower
  • a PSA level under 10 ng/ml
  • a prostate that’s no larger than 40cc in volume

Is HIFU a long-term cure for early prostate cancer?

HIFU is still a very new treatment and much of the research in prostate cancer patients is little more than 20 years old, so no long-term cure rates are available.

Some experts caution that HIFU may not completely cure prostate cancer, because there’ve been some cases of recurrence. Dr. Wheeler believes the explanation is simple: Prostate cancer recurs when HIFU isn’t used on "carefully selected” patients.His office reports that when men are properly qualified the cancer does not return.

Other experts point to the simplicity of the treatment and how you can receive it again and again to safely melt away recurring prostate cancers. In fact, research suggests that some men might need more than one treatment to get rid of their prostate cancer completely.

How can I get HIFU treatment?

Currently, the U.S. Government approves HIFU only for "investigational” use. So to get it in the USA you must enroll in a clinical trial, such as those being performed by the FDA. Fortunately, U.S. HIFU, the company that owns the Sonablate® 500 HIFU technology, has 100 treatment centers worldwide, including centers in Mexico, Canada, Costa Rica, South Africa and the Caribbean. Gary and Greg, whom I mentioned earlier, both visited the center in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, where Board Certified Urologist Dr. Stephen Scionti regularly travels from his practice in South Carolina to perform the procedure.
Other Americans such as Richard Brightmire have traveled to the Cancun, Mexico center. He told his story on ABC’s "Nightline” in June, 2008. According to the broadcast, four months after his HIFU treatment, his PSA had plummeted to zero and his quality of life was perfectly "normal.” "I’m doing fine since the HIFU procedure. Everything is back to normal,” Brightmire said. "For me, I went with the procedure because of the results outside the U.S. that show it to be non-invasive and show a lower risk of long-term hospitalization, and a lower risk of incontinence as well as impotence, especially compared to surgery and other treatments available today.”

For more information: http://sonacaremedical.com/

With a price tag of $25,000-$30,000, HIFU treatment certainly isn’t cheap. And because it’s not approved by the FDA, your insurance company won’t automatically cover the cost. But according to the U.S. HIFU’s Web site, "Several patients have been able to receive full reimbursement from their insurance company. People have been successful by filing a claim through an independent claims filing service. Patients are given a detailed receipt after the procedure to assist in filing and for tax purposes… You may be able to deduct HIFU as a
medical expense on your taxes in USA…”

For more information:

Watch a 3-D animation of the HIFU procedure here: http://www.panamhifu.com
Stephen M. Scionti, M.D. Minimally Invasive Prostate Cancer Specialist
Coastal Carolina Urology Group, LLC
8 Hospital Center Boulevard, Suite 150
Hilton Head Island, SC 29926
Toll-free: 866-422-2284
Fax: 843-342-7640
Web site: www.HIFUcarecenter.com
Web site: www.cryocarecenter.com
Ronald Wheeler, M.D.
Urologist and Director of the Diagnostic Center
for Disease
1250 South Tamiami Trail, Suite 101 N
Sarasota, FL 34239
Tel: 941-957-0007
Toll-free: 877-766-8400
Fax: 941-957-1033
E-mail: staff@mrisusa.com
Web site: http://www.ronaldwheeler.com


Posted by Dr. João Carrilho

Dr. João Carrilho
Doctor in Traditional Chinese Medicine by Southwest Medical University, China.
Licensed Acupuncturist (N.0500096) and Phytotherapist (N.0400028) by the Portuguese Health Ministry.
Post-Graduated in Health Sciences at Oporto University, Portugal

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