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A trial looking at high intensity focused ultrasound (HIFU) to treat areas of prostate cancer contained in the prostate gland (focal ablation)
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This trial was looking at high intensity focused ultrasound (HIFU) for localised prostate cancer.
Doctors can treat localised prostate cancer with surgery or radiotherapy. But both of these can cause side effects such as urinary problems, difficulty getting an erection (impotence) and bowel problems including diarrhoea.
Doctors have been looking at a treatment called high intensity focused ultrasound or HIFU which they hoped would cause fewer side effects. High intensity ultrasound beams can kill cancer cells if the beam is focused directly onto them using a special machine.
In this trial, the doctors used HIFU for prostate cancers that were completely within the prostate gland. Rather than treating the whole of the prostate gland, the doctors only treated the areas that contained cancer. This is called focal ablation treatment.
The main aim of the trial was to learn more about the side effects of focal ablation using HIFU.
Summary of results
The researchers found that focal ablation using HIFU did not cause bad side effects.
The study recruited 42 men who were between 45 and 80 years old. They all had
- Cancer that had not spread outside the prostate gland (localised prostate cancer)
- A PSA level of 16 or less
- A Gleason score of 7 or less
All the men taking part had focal ablation using HIFU. The men completed questionnaires before treatment, and then 1, 3, 6, 9 and 12 months after treatment. The questionnaires asked about their
About 1 in 5 men had some pain passing urine after the treatment but this only lasted a few days. None of the men in this trial said they had
Of the 35 men who said they were able to get an erection before treatment, 31 said this was the same a year after HIFU treatment.
The study team also looked at how helpful this treatment was as a treatment for localised prostate cancer. Unfortunately, 1 man taking part in the study died from something unrelated so the researchers only have results for 41 men. They found that for 39 of these men, an MRI scan a year after having HIFU showed no significant signs of prostate cancer.
The researchers suggest there should be more clinical trials to compare focal ablation using HIFU with other types of treatment and to look at how well the treatment works in the long term.
We have based this summary on information from the team who ran the trial. The information they sent us has been reviewed by independent specialists (
How to join a clinical trial
Prof Mark Emberton
Medical Research Council (MRC)
National Institute for Health Research Cancer Research Network (NCRN)
Pelican Cancer Foundation
St Peters Trust
University College London Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust