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Ablatherm® HIFU Treatment Information

Who should have this type of treatment?

Ablatherm® HIFU treatment is suitable for men all who are at risk for surgery due to their age or other associated illnesses or who do not want to have surgery. It may also be suitable for men whose cancer has returned following radiotherapy.
In some cases Ablatherm® HIFU is not recommended for men who have experienced hardening of the rectal wall due to previous cancer treatments.


Your urologist may recommend Ablatherm® HIFU if:

  • you require treatment for contained prostate cancer for the first time but are unable or do not wish to undergo more routine treatments such as surgery
  • you have had radiotherapy in the past and your cancer has now returned.
Ablatherm® HIFU Device

Patients undergoing Ablatherm® HIFU treatment are given a general or spinal anesthetic. A probe is placed in the rectum (back passage) and this emits high intensity focused ultrasound at the cancerous cells in the prostate gland. At the point where the ultrasound waves are focused the absorption of the ultrasound beam creates a sudden temperature increase (around 85°C) which destroys the cells in the targeted zone.


Are there reasons why or circumstances in which HIFU treatment is not a possible option?

Almost none – this type of treatment is not the most appropriate for men with very large prostates and in this particular case a TURP (Transurethral Resection of the Prostate) or hormone treatment can be given to reduce the size of the gland so that Ablatherm® HIFU treatment is made possible.


Is the Ablatherm® HIFU procedure painful?

The treatment itself is not painful as it is carried out under local anesthetic (epidural) or sometimes general anesthetic.
Pain at the end of the treatment is rare, although most patients feel a slight discomfort which disappears after a few days. The procedure is minimally invasive so there are no wounds and patients do not experience the burning sensation often associated with radiotherapy.


What happens after treatment?

Most patients can go back to eating normal food the evening after treatment and are discharged from hospital the next day. The urinary catheter is generally removed three or four days later. Medication may be prescribed for the following eight weeks to prevent any infection of the urethra or bladder.
In the period after treatment you may experience some discomfort including mild bleeding at the start of urination, frequent and sometimes urgent urination, urine leakage during physical exertion or coughing and sometimes the elimination of dead cancer cells in the urine. Infections with fever are rare but possible and require antibiotics.
These side effects disappear in the weeks following the treatment.


What long-term follow up is required?

Usually PSA levels are checked every three months and a biopsy is undertaken six months after treatment. If cancer cells remain (10 to 15% of cases), a second Ablatherm® HIFU treatment is likely to be given six months after the first treatment.


What are the side effects?

Trials of Ablatherm® HIFU treatment have found few side effects. The healthy surrounding cells are not destroyed along with the cancerous cells and the procedure is minimally-invasive (does not involve an incision through the skin). This means only a short hospital stay is required and you will be able to return to normal activity after only a few days. HIFU patients do not experience a burning sensation associated with radiotherapy.


Ablatherm® HIFU treatment after radiotherapy

Ablatherm® HIFU treatment can be given to patients whose cancer has returned after radiotherapy, although some patients are not suitable (about 5% cases) due to abnormal thickening of the rectal wall or because the cancer has spread.
Results for this type of treatment are consistent with other options such as cryotherapy or surgery (Radical Prostatectomy). In a study conducted at Edouard Herriot Hospital in France no cancer was found in biopsy tests for 73% of patients and the cancer was controlled in 50% of cases.
The risk of incontinence is higher and the recovery time longer compared to patients undergoing HIFU treatment as a first option.


For further clinical information and all latest publications on Ablatherm HIFU, click here.