A trial of high intensity focused ultrasound (HIFU) to delay further treatment for prostate cancer

Cancer type:

Prostate cancer




Phase 2

This trial used HIFU to see if it improved men’s quality of life by giving a treatment with fewer side effects and by delaying the need for more treatment. 

More about this trial

Early prostate cancer can be treated with

  • surgery
  • radiotherapy
  • hormone therapy 

These have side effects that can severely affect quality of life Open a glossary item including leakage of urine and loss of erection. Treating 1 area of the prostate could reduce these side effects and improve quality of life.

High intensity ultrasound beams can kill cancer cells if the beam is focused directly on to them. This treatment is called high intensity focused ultrasound (HIFU)

By using HIFU to treat the largest area of cancer in the prostate doctors thought this might reduce the need for more intensive treatment. 

The aims of this trial were to find out 

  • if treating the largest area of cancer in the prostate gland with HIFU could delay the need for further treatment 
  • what the side effects were

Summary of results

The trial team found targeting the largest area of cancer in the prostate delayed the need for further treatment and reduced the side effects.

This phase 2 trial recruited 56 men. All were treated with HIFU to the largest area of cancer in their prostate. 

Six months after treatment 34 men had no sign of cancer in the treated area of their prostate. 

A year after treatment 42 men had no significant cancer in any part of their prostate. 

After having HIFU 4 men needed further treatment.

Before HIFU 40 men had problems with leakage of urine and erection difficulties. A year after treatment 33 men did.   

The trial team concluded that men who have targeted HIFU have few side effects and that it is acceptable in controlling the cancer in the short term. They think further trials comparing this with other treatments are needed to find out how well targeted HIFU works.  

We have based this summary on information from the research team. The information they sent us has been reviewed by independent specialists (peer reviewed Open a glossary item) and published in a medical journal. The figures we quote above were provided by the trial team who did the research. We have not analysed the data ourselves.

Recruitment start:

Recruitment end:

How to join a clinical trial

Please note: In order to join a trial you will need to discuss it with your doctor, unless otherwise specified.

Please note - unless we state otherwise in the summary, you need to talk to your doctor about joining a trial.

Chief Investigator

Professor Mark Emberton

Supported by

Medical Research Council (MRC)
NIHR Clinical Research Network: Cancer
Pelican Cancer Foundation
University College London Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust


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Freephone 0808 800 4040

Last review date

CRUK internal database number:


Please note - unless we state otherwise in the summary, you need to talk to your doctor about joining a trial.

Keith took part in a trial looking into hormone therapy

A picture of Keith

"Health wise I am feeling great. I am a big supporter of trials - it allows new treatments and drugs to be brought in.”

Last reviewed:

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