Although HIFU, pronounced “high-foo,” for prostate disease has been available for more than 10 years throughout the world, it is still relatively “new” in terms of awareness as a treatment in the United States.
Men who are diagnosed with low grade, localized prostate cancer by their urologist are often told about traditional treatment options such as surgery, radiation and maybe even a robotic surgery option, but HIFU isn’t always mentioned.
There are a lot of reasons for this – the first one is probably that the FDA cleared HIFU for prostate ablation (destruction) in October 2015. In the big scheme of things, this makes HIFU the “new kid on the block” in terms of treatment options for prostate disease. As the newcomer, physicians are still learning, training and educating themselves about the procedure so they can give their patients the best possible care.
However, it’s important to note that despite the recent clearance from the FDA, clinical trials for HIFU have been going on in the U.S. for about 12 years at major medical centers – so it has been available, just at a limited level. Additionally, in preparation for availability of HIFU in the U.S., some urologists have been traveling to other countries, such as Canada and Mexico, where HIFU has been approved for several years to receive training and offer their patients the non-invasive treatment option.
That means that there are some U.S. urologists that have been working with HIFU patients for several years that are experienced and can speak at length with patients about the procedure, outcomes and what to expect. Personally, I first learned and started training with HIFU technology in 2005 when XXXX. I was involved in early clinical trials for the technology and have had the unique opportunity to work with the HIFU device as it has evolved over the past couple of years. In my professional opinion, HIFU is an excellent tool for minimally invasive destruction of prostatic tissue.
The education for other physicians may take a little but longer, but there is already a lot of momentum for the treatment option going on among urologists. Earlier this year in May, urologists gathered in San Diego, Calif. for the annual meeting of the American Urology Association (AUA). Each year at this meeting, healthcare professionals get together to talk about the latest medical advancements and cutting edge technology. This year, one of the most popular topics for discussion around prostate cancer was HIFU.
There are lots of effective treatments for prostate cancer available for men. They all have different risks and benefits, and ultimately the right treatment option depends on a man’s diagnosis and overall medical condition. As awareness grows, education within the medical community improves, and medium to long-term clinical outcomes become more readily available – you will hear more about more about HIFU. In the meantime, ask your doctor or do your own research HIFU just might be right for you.