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Innovative prostate cancer technology

by Antoine Craigwell

HIFU, high intensity focused ultrasound, is prostate cancer technology used to eliminate cancerous cells in the prostate, with comparably lesser side effects, cost and a quicker return to normalcy than other commonly used treatment methods currently available in the U.S.
The American Cancer Society (ACS) 2007 Cancer Facts and Figures says that while incidence rates of prostate cancer are significantly higher in Blacks than in white men and although prostate cancer death rates have been declining nationwide since the early 1990s, mortality among African-Americans still remains more than twice as high as those of white men.
The ACS 2007 Surveillance Research estimates 26,730 new prostate cancer cases in African-Americans in the New York tri-state region and 8.5 percent or 2,270 deaths. The ACS says that though common among men in North America and southern Europe, statistics show that Afro-Caribbean men have the highest prostate cancer incidence rates in the world and advises men with a strong family history to begin screening for it as early as age 45.
As a treatment method, HIFU goes back to the early 1940s through to the 60s when it was used extensively for the treatment of various cancers in women. It is an alternative to already established treatment methods, including: cryotherapy, freezing cancerous cells; radical prostatectomy, prostate removal; external beam radiation, radiation through healthy tissue for six to eight weeks; and internal radiation seeds, permanent implantation of 80 to 100 radioactive seeds in the prostate — all of which have periods of hospitalization, extended recovery, varying percentages of impotence and incontinence (insufficient bladder control), pain and other lower abdominal abnormalities. While avoiding nerves and blood vessels, HIFU focuses a large pulse of high-energy ultrasonic waves on a single location, raising the temperature of cancerous cells to 100 degrees Celsius, and causing the lipids of cell membranes to melt and the proteins in them to denature.
John Rewcastle, Ph.D., of the Radiology Department at the University of Calgary, Alberta, Canada, in a comparative review paper says this treatment method is minimally invasive, without any incision— a probe into the rectum— the recovery is less than one week, the impotency rate is 28 percent, and the incontinence rate is lower that other methods. Other forms of prostate cancer treatment leave radiation failures and prostatectomy residuals — rectal injury, blood loss, and cancer cells. After receiving the HIFU treatment, lasting up to three hours, patients are able to return to their regular lives almost immediately, with only two follow-up treatments for about two hours each.
While acknowledging its effectiveness, Brian Stone, M.D., assistant professor of urology at Columbia University Medical Center, cautions, “It is experimental because there are still questions about it.”
Though accepted and practiced in Europe, Canada, South Korea, Australia, the Dominican Republic, Mexico, and Brazil, HIFU is in the U.S. Food and Drug Administration Phase III clinical trials, which examines equipment safety and efficacy, and has not been approved for use in the U.S. Current insurance payouts for approved prostatectomy or radiation procedures range between $100,000 to $150,000; a HIFU treatment costs $25,000 when there is a low prostate specific antigen (PSA), the level of antigen found in the blood, and the tumor is localized in the prostate, and $30,000 if the tumor has traveled and has compromised the seminal vesicles, and the PSA is higher than seven. It is not a treatment option for those people whose cancer has metastasized beyond the prostate.
But, Abraham Woods, III, M.D., one of three African-American urological specialists in the country who work with HIFU, says an alternative prostate treatment is predicated on preventing the certain death men face with undiagnosed prostate problems.
“For those who have had conventional forms of treatment and are living lives with impotence and wearing pads against incontinence, the result is psychological damage to their masculinity,” he says

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March 20, 2008 - Posted by | Health, Male Health, Public Health, Uncategorized | , , , , , ,

2 Comments »

  1. […] Mens Health Updates wrote an interesting post today onHere’s a quick excerpt by Antoine Craigwell HIFU, high intensity focused ultrasound, is prostate cancer technology used to eliminate cancerous cells in the prostate, with comparably lesser side effects, cost and a quicker return to normalcy than other commonly used treatment methods currently available in the U.S. The American Cancer Society (ACS) 2007 Cancer Facts and Figures says that while incidence rates of prostate cancer are significantly higher in Blacks than in white men and although prostate cancer death […]

    Pingback by Innovative prostate cancer technology · Prostate Cancer | March 21, 2008 | Reply


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