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High Intensity Focused Ultrasound (HIFU) is Ideal Treatment for Prostate Cancer

Also known as Magnetic Resonance guided Focused Ultrasound or MRgFUS or MRgHIFU, HIFU is a medical procedure which applies high intensity focused ultrasound energy so as to locally heat areas & eventually destroy damaged or diseased tissue through ablation. This is a hyperthermia therapy which is a class of clinical therapies using temperature so as to cure diseases. HIFU is one modality of therapeutic ultrasound which involves noninvasive or minimally invasive techniques to direct acoustic energy into organs & tissue of the body. Clinical utilization of HIFU is typically performed in conjunction with imaging techniques in order to enable planning & targeting prior to applying ablative or therapeutic levels of ultrasound energy as part of treatment.

High Intensity Focused Ultrasound (HIFU) for Prostate Cancer

HIFU in Treatment for Cancer

High intensity focused ultrasound is a specific type of Cancer Treatment. HIFU is normally given with help of a machine which give off high frequency sound waves which deliver strong beams to specific areas of cancer. Some cancerous cells are found to die when HIFU beam is directly focused on them. Basic advantage of this type of treatment is that there are not many side effects as with other types of cancer treatments being used. Presently, HIFU is used as treatment for specific types of cancer in certain situations.

Suitability of HIFU as Treatment

Only useful in treatment of a single tumor or part of a large tumor, HIFU cannot be effectively used to treat tumors which are generally widespread. HIFU therefore is not suitable for people with cancer which has spread to more than one area within the body. Moreover, HIFU cannot also pass through air or solid bone which effectively means that it cannot be useful in treating all types of cancers.

Types of Cancers HIFU Can Effectively Treat

Types of cancer which can be successfully treated with HIFU are listed below.

  • Prostate Cancer – Since prostate is positioned deep within pelvis HIFU is the most ideal treatment procedure for prostate cancer. A transrectal ultrasound probe is applied for the purpose through the rectal opening either under the influence of general anesthesia or spinal anesthetic. Ultrasound from this position can accurately direct beams aimed at the prostate. Trial results so far have shown that HIFU has fewer side effects including erection & incontinence problems. These studies also indicate that HIFU is as successful a prostate cancer treatment as radiotherapy or radical prostatectomy. However, as this procedure is fairly new & has not been around long enough to show long-term results as compared with other alternative procedures. HIFU is generally offered as treatment instead of radiotherapy or surgery for localized prostate cancers. Surgeons have quite often used this procedure for cancer which has just been diagnosed or as salvage treatment for cancer which has come back in prostate. Doctors are also expected to monitor all HIFU patients so as to learn more about drawbacks, side effects & long-term benefits. Patients undergoing HIFU will also have to sign a consent form saying that all relevant details including the above have been explained to them prior to agreeing for this treatment procedure.
  • Primary & Secondary Liver Cancers – HIFU has been tried in trials for both primary & secondary hepatocellular cancer (HCC). Studies have revealed promising results for HIFU as treatment for small HCC, but more research is however needed in randomized trials to see if HIFU for primary liver cancer is better than standard treatment procedures. Doctors are also looking to find out if HIFU can be helpful in combination with other treatment procedures for primary liver cancers & whether it helps control symptoms for advanced disease. Although researchers in UK & other countries continue to probe further, HIFU has also appeared to be helpful in treatment of some secondary liver cancers.
  • Pancreatic Cancer – HIFU in China has been successfully used to help relieve pain & associated symptoms in people suffering from advanced pancreatic cancer. However, it has not yet been used as cure for pancreatic cancer. Surgery is still the first choice of treatment for pancreatic cancer which has not spread to other regions of the patient’s body in both UK & China. HIFU is generally sought to relieve symptoms among patients who are not fit enough to undergo surgery for pancreatic cancer.
  • Bladder Cancer – Surgeons in China have effectively used HIFU as treatment for people with bladder cancer. Nevertheless, it cancer returned in bladder after HIFU, these doctors preferred surgery as standard treatment with regular follow-up post operation.

Advantages & Disadvantages of HIFU Treatment

Deciding whether HIFU is a good choice for treatment is for the patient to make up his mind after he has carefully understood all the advantages & disadvantages & has discussed the same with the doctor.

  • HIFU Advantages – These include the minimally invasive nature of HIFU procedure & which will subsequently require minimal hospital stay along with minimal side effects.
  • HIFU Disadvantages – HIFU is quite an expensive procedure& which is a new treatment without much statistical data available on the subject. Moreover, it appears to be less effective in controlling cancer along with the possibility of scarring in prostate tissue.

Possible Complications of HIFU Treatment

As with all procedures, HIFU treatment also has possible complications & side effects. Each patient responds quite differently to varying forms of treatment procedures. Surgeons have found that there is a possibility of slightly higher risk of 3 – 4 percent among some patients developing fistula due to HIFU treatment. Fistula basically is an opening between the bowel & urinary system.

Side Effects of HIFU

As of now, there have been very few side effects among people who have undergone HIFU treatment. HIFU may cause some pain or discomfort for 3 – 4 days following treatment & which may cause soreness in rectum or in skin depending upon the area which has been treated. This is however mild & does not last for long. Moreover, it is quite unusual for soreness to be severe or ongoing.

Affordable HIFU Treatments in India

India is a leading medical tourism destination providing a wide spectrum of affordable healthcare solutions including advanced cancer treatments like high intensity focused ultrasound for people from all around the world. Doctors & hospitals in the subcontinent are some of the best & most reputed & have constantly upgraded with the latest emerging technologies within the world of contemporary healthcare. IndianMedTrip is an one-stop online medical tourism platform catering international patients with high-quality yet low-cost healthcare solutions. Seamless & end-to-end services offered by IndianMedTrip Healthcare Consultants include assistance in obtaining medical visa, warm reception on arrival, convenient travel & comfortable accommodation, scheduled appointments & medical procedures, check-ups post treatment, additional exotic recuperative holidays option & a successful farewell.

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