Because of the numerous benefits of High Intensity Focused Ultrasound (HIFU) as a prostate cancer treatment option, many patients are wondering how they can get the treatment. As of February 2010, the FDA is still investigating HIFU as a prostate cancer treatment, and several HIFU delivery devices are in clinical trials stages. Those who wish to benefit from HIFU now will need to be creative to find a treatment option.
What Is HIFU?
HIFU is a medical procedure that uses ultrasound waves to destroy tissue that is otherwise hard to reach, such as the tissue in the prostate gland. When used to treat prostate cancer, HIFU destroys the entire prostate gland by heating and ablating the tissue using ultrasound waves. This highly effective treatment limits the risk of side effects form other prostate cancer treatment options, making it ideal for those who wish to preserve their current quality of life while dealing with the threat caused by localized prostate cancer.
Do I Qualify?
The first step in getting HIFU treatment for your prostate cancer is determining if you qualify for treatment. Find a urologist who is familiar with HIFU and works with clinical trials or international treatment facilities to discuss your case. You will need to tell the doctor your recent PSA, Gleason score, the size and volume of your prostate and any treatments you have already tried. Other factors will be considered as well, including the patient’s age, overall health, and the location of the prostate tumors.
Currently, there are two ways to get HIFU treatment. The first is to find an open clinical trial in your area. To do this, find a doctor who is working with the clinical trials, and ask whether or not you qualify to participate. If you do, you can get HIFU treatment for your prostate cancer without leaving the United States.
The other option is to travel to a HIFU treatment clinic outside of the US. Some of the best urologists in the country regularly travel to these clinics to perform HIFU. The treatment centers will help patients find lodging to use before and after treatment. Since treatment with HIFU is an outpatient procedure, most patients are able to travel to the treatment center, receive the treatment, and return home in just a few days. Follow up with a urologists in the states is recommended after HIFU treatment.
Recovery: What to Expect
Compared to other prostate cancer treatment options, recovery after HIFU is minimal. HIFU patients can expect to wear a catheter to allow the bladder to completely drain while the body heals. Patients will need the catheter for between one and four weeks, which means it will need to be removed during follow up with a urologist in the patient’s local area. Most patients are able to move normally within a few hours of treatment. Mild discomfort is common, but no severe pain. Any discomfort felt is typically treated using painkillers. Some uncomfortable urinary symptoms, like frequency, urgency, or urinary discomfort, are common, but these are temporary and will resolve themselves within a few days of treatment.
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