Advances in Ultrasound Technology Offer New Options to U.S. Prostate Cancer Patients
By Brian J. Miles, MD
Houston Methodist Urology Associates
Professor of Urology, Institute for Academic Medicine
Houston Methodist – Weill Cornell Medical College
After delivering a diagnosis of prostate cancer, doctors typically inform their patients about three basic approaches to managing the disease: active surveillance (“watchful waiting”), radiation therapy, or radical surgery to remove the entire prostate.
Increasingly, however, patients in the U.S. have access to a different option: High Intensity Focused Ultrasound (HIFU).
The use of HIFU in this country has been on the upswing since 2015 when the FDA approved it for “prostate tissue ablation,” meaning the technology can be employed to remove or destroy prostate tissue.
Today, urologists at major medical centers, ranging from Houston Methodist Hospital to the University of Chicago, University of Miami and Duke University are using HIFU with patients who have localized prostate cancer (the type that has spread in but not beyond the capsule of the prostate gland.) And HIFU was validated by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) in mid-2017, when the agency created a specific billing code for partial reimbursement for Medicare patients who choose the HIFU option.
HIFU is a minimally invasive, radiation-free procedure that directs high-frequency sound waves to destroy the diseased area of the prostate, while sparing other parts of the gland and potentially reducing the risk of side effects like impotence or incontinence.