New Prostate Cancer Procedure to be Approved by the FDA
Imagine a surgeon using the power of sound as a scalpel, cutting away cancer-ridden tissue with precision while leaving healthy tissue alone. That may soon be a reality as a new treatment for this male-oriented cancer is weeks away be approved by the FDA. The technique is called high-intensity focused ultrasound (HIFU). Nicknamed the “ultrasound scalpel,” the technique lots of advantages over other procedures. It is non-surgical, outpatient, and has a low-risk of side effects. Prostate cancer is usually caught early today. When it is localized, meaning just a tumor inside the gland, clinicians often suggest active surveillance or watching it closely to see if it gets bigger. That is because radiation or surgery—the most common techniques, can damage other tissue such as the nerves that cause erections or urinary or bowel continence. Since the side effects seriously hamper a man’s quality of life, these options are held off until the cancer turns aggressive, meaning it grows beyond the gland itself and threatens other tissues.
The HIFU technique is meant to be able to take out prostate tumors in their early stages. Due to the pinpoint accuracy of this technology, clinicians can take out the cancer while localized, leaving healthy tissue alone safeguarding nerves and with them, the patient’s quality of life. HIFU preserves these nerves with 80% accuracy, as opposed to 40-50% with surgery or radiation. There are other advantages. Rather than a six to eight week recovery time required with other therapies, after HIFU men can return to normal activities in just a few days. All men over 40 years of age should talk to their doctor or an urologist about being screened for prostate cancer. Men over 50 and those at high risk such as African-Americans, or those who have a family history of the disease should be periodically screened. Be sure and discuss it with your physician or specialist should you fall within these guidelines. They may even suggest HIFU.