Prostate Cancer

(HIFU) High intensity focused ultrasound

High Intensity Focused Ultrasound (HIFU) works by generating small areas of energy about the size of a grain of rice. The release of this energy within the prostate causes the tissue to heat up. This change in temperature destroys the prostate cells and any cancerous cells in the area. The small treatment areas can be very carefully located within the prostate, thereby avoiding the delicate organs that lie next to the prostate gland. 

HIFU is an experimental treatment that has been in use since about 2000. “Research has shown that HIFU for prostate cancer is safe. But we still need more research about whether it is as good as other treatments and about its possible side effects.” Cancer Research UK July 2016.

The best results are seen in treating "low-risk", localised prostate cancer. The prostate must be relatively small (less than 40cc) and not contain much calcification. This limits its suitability for many patients.

Men may have their treatment and then go home a few hours later, provided someone else is at home and suitable transport can be arranged, but others stay in hospital for at least a night or two. We talked to one man five weeks after he had experienced this new HIFU treatment. He was taking part in a clinical trial to help assess the results of therapy.  

It is important to note that this is only one man's experience of HIFU. More research is needed to assess the harms and benefits of this treatment.

Last reviewed July 2017.
Last updated July 2017.

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