Focal high intensity focused ultrasound (HIFU) is a treatment approach that targets only the clinically significant tumour while leaving the rest of the prostate and surrounding structures intact. The HIFU treatment uses intersecting, precision focused, high frequency acoustic waves to destroy cancerous tissue.
The tumour is first located using biopsies and medical imaging such as MRI or ultrasound. A doctor will then create a treatment plan and identify which area of the prostate to target. The HIFU probe is most often inserted into the rectum, but is sometimes inserted through the urethra. The doctors monitor the treatment as it progresses to ensure that the tumour reaches therapeutic temperatures (temperatures at which cancer cells are killed). The heat provided by the HIFU as well as the rapid cycles of compression and decompression destroy the cancerous tissue.
This approach is minimally invasive and has shown promising results in the current clinical trials. An advantage of focal HIFU is that most of the prostate remains intact and healthy tissues surrounding the prostate are spared. As such, the common side effects of radical therapy are less likely to occur. Nearly all men who are continent and potent prior to treatment will regain continence and potency within a few months after treatment.