This new treatment may strongly benefit people with prostate cancer

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For some prostate cancer patients, radical treatment (surgery or radiation) are treatment standards.

However, these procedures may cause side effects including urinary incontinence or impotency.

In a new study, researchers found that focal (or targeted) high-intensity focused ultrasound (HIFU) ablation of the prostate is an effective alternative to surgery or radiation, with encouraging outcomes and shortened recovery time.

This is the first and largest study examining the outcomes of focal HIFU ablation as a primary treatment for prostate cancer in the United States.

The research was conducted by a team from USC Urology with Keck Medicine of USC.

Focal HIFU ablation is an outpatient procedure that uses a focused ultrasound beam to raise the temperature inside the prostate to approximately 90 degrees Celsius (194 degrees Fahrenheit) to destroy targeted areas of prostate tissue.

The procedure takes around two hours and the patients are often discharged home the same day.

The team followed 100 men in the United States who underwent a HIFU procedure for prostate cancer between 2015-2019.

During follow-up, 91% of HIFU patients successfully avoided radical treatment.

Also, 73% of patients did not experience treatment failure, which the researchers defined as clinically significant cancer recurrence, metastases or mortality, or the need for additional hormone therapy, chemotherapy, surgery, or radiation.

The results showed that focal HIFU carries a low risk of complication and can help preserve the quality of life. In fact, all patients remained continent and there was no significant decrease in sexual function.

There also were no serious adverse events or major complications.

Minor complications, including difficulties with urination and urinary tract infection, occurred in a small proportion of the patients and were addressed without major interventions.

Patients were typically discharged the same day as their procedure and resumed regular activities shortly thereafter.

The team hopes this study encourages prostate cancer patients to talk to their doctor about all potential treatment options to ensure that they receive a personalized care plan that addresses their individual needs.

Urologists worldwide have used HIFU ablation to treat prostate cancer patients for many years; however, the technology was only approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for prostate tissue ablation in 2015.

Keck Medicine was among the first U.S. institutions to use this technology following FDA approval.

One author of the study is Andre Abreu, MD, a urologic surgeon with Keck Medicine.

The study is published in The Journal of Urology.

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