Pros and Cons of HIFU Prostate Cancer Treatment


High Intensity Focused Ultrasound (HIFU) prostate cancer treatment is a non-invasive procedure that kills prostate tissue by tapping into powerful precision-focused sound waves. This revolutionary has been under development for about three decades and was first used to treat prostate cancer in Europe in 1995. It is now approved for use in Europe, Mexico, Asia and the Caribbean, though it is undergoing assessment in the US by the Food and Drug Administration using authorized clinical trials. In 2014, the procedure was incorporated into the European Urology Association (EAU) guidelines as a salvage and primary treatment for prostate cancer.

Though the procedure has been greeted with positive opinions, there are also people who do not support it. Here are the pros and cons of HIFU:

List of Pros of HIFU Prostate Cancer Treatment

1. It helps improve the detection of focal prostate cancer.
With this procedure, prostate cancer as unilateral disease has been shown to exists in almost 50% of men, while uni-focal disease is found to be about 70% of men who were discovered to be having localized prostate cancer. It has been found that the proportion of patients with unilateral tumors with low-risk pathologic and clinical characteristics has risen. Before, subsequent clinical behaviors were not predicted by the presence of secondary cancers in multifocal prostate tumors.

2. It prevents overtreatment of low-risk prostate cancer.
Research shows that some men need to be screened, and those diagnosed with such disorder can be treated to avoid over a certain interval of time. Take note that some patients are over-treated, and though this is not a problem, HIFU offers a solution that is cost effective with low toxicity.

3. It helps improve the overall quality of life.
Research shows that changes in quality of life are related to satisfaction with the overall outcome among patients undergoing this procedure. A multi-center trial showed that the therapy had an effect on the patients’ well-being. The findings confirm that this procedure will have a positive effect on the quality of life of the subjects.

List of Cons of HIFU Prostate Cancer Treatment

1. It is known to have under-treatment.
One major argument against this therapy can be classified under “understaging” and with the centers around the multi-focality of prostate cancer, while only a few patients have true unifocal disease. While low tumor volume is favorable as a prognostic feature, it does not guarantee unifocality. In low-volume illnesses, there is a possibility of a multi-focal pattern even if the size of largest focus index lesion determines the prognosis of a patient.

2. It is facing problems with diagnostic tools.
Even this procedure is said to be providing the accuracy that is necessary to administer focal therapy, it has some limitations, such as the higher risk of infection and the increase of morbidity in patients who are unsuitable for focal therapy.

3. It has negative functional outcomes.
While lower severity and likelihood of treatment-related morbidity is associated with this treatment, it is still subject of confirmation through trials, as there are side-effects. Complications are still to be classified accordingly.

All in all, HIFU prostate cancer treatment is still to set and meet guidelines for efficacy. Based on the pros and cons listed above, do you think that this practice changes the society in a good way or not?