A new study in Lancet Oncology describes an approach called high-intensity focused ultrasound that may help prostate cancer patients by better targeting their tumors, reports Bloomberg's Allison Connolly. "The technology enables doctors to preserve the prostate by aiming only at the cancerous area in contrast to standard treatment, such as irradiation or surgical removal of the gland, which may cause impotence and leakage of urine or feces," Connolly says. "The technique, also called HIFU, may provide men with an alternative similar to the lumpectomy, in which doctors remove tumors rather than the whole organ in breast-cancer patients." HIFU aims a focused beam of sound waves at a cancerous area, and doctors use MRI and mapping biopsies to identify targets and better focus the sound waves, she adds. The sound waves, in turn, cause the affected tissue to vibrate and heat, which kills the cancer cells. The team tested this method on 41 men, 95 percent of whom were cancer free after one year, and none of whom reported incontinence. The researchers tell Connolly that the technology is particularly good for smaller tumors, will help preserve quality of life for patients, and could even be used for other cancers like breast, thyroid, pancreas, and liver.
A Better Look
Apr 19, 2012