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A trial of high intensity focused ultrasound (HIFU) for localised prostate cancer
This trial was looking at high intensity focused ultrasound (HIFU) to treat prostate cancer that is contained within the prostate gland (localised prostate cancer).
HIFU uses high frequency sound waves. When high frequency sound waves are focused directly on body tissues, the cells heat up and die. Doctors hoped that HIFU could be used to kill prostate cancer cells without damaging healthy surrounding tissue.
Because the prostate gland is inside the body, you have HIFU to the prostate via an ultrasound probe in your back passage (rectum). From that position, the ultrasound beams can be directed onto the prostate more accurately.
The aim of this trial was to see how well HIFU worked for localised prostate cancer.
Summary of results
Short term results show that HIFU can work as a treatment for localised prostate cancer.
The trial recruited a small number of men in the UK. But details of their treatment and how they got on have been added to a database that includes results from men having HIFU in a number of other European countries (this is called the @-Registry).
In this way, researchers were able to look at results from 356 men who had HIFU for prostate cancer that was completely contained in the prostate gland (tumour stage T1 or T2). None of the men had had any other treatment for their prostate cancer and they all had HIFU to the whole of their prostate gland.
The men had PSA tests after they had HIFU to see how well the treatment had worked. On average, the PSA level dropped to a low level within 4 months of having HIFU.
Some of the men also had biopsies after their HIFU treatment. The researchers have biopsy results for 226 of the men. They found that in more than 8 out of 10 (81%) of these men, the biopsy showed no signs of prostate cancer.
The researchers suggest that HIFU to the whole prostate gland works as a treatment for localised prostate cancer. But on average, these men were monitored for less than 3 years after their treatment. HIFU needs to be compared with other prostate cancer treatments to see if it works as well 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
Dr Stephen Brown (UK)
Dr Andreas Blana (Chair of @-Registry Committee)
Stepping Hill Hospital
Stockport Prostate Cancer Fund