High Intensity Focused Ultrasound for Prostate Cancer: Guidelines, Complications, and Outcomes

Arvin George, MD, Assistant Professor of Urology at the University of Michigan in Midland, Michigan, reviews high intensity ultrasound (HIFU) for prostate cancer and outlines guidelines, patient selection, complications, and outcomes for the treatment. The NCCN guidelines state that HIFU is included as a salvage option after prior treatment failure, specifically radiation failure, but is not recommended as routine primary therapy due to lack of long-term comparative data. The EAU guidelines say to only offer HIFU within clinical trials or well-designed prospective cohorts. Dr. George describes the ideal HIFU patient as having unifocal, clinically-significant, and MRI-visible disease that has an absence of high-risk features. He then goes over a list of common complications and their rates of occurrence: retention (7-27%), hematoma (0-1.6%), sloughing (3-8%), urinary tract infection (5-18%), orchitis (2-8%), abscess (1-2%), fistula (.3-3%), pain (.5-3%), erectile dysfunction (12-30%), incontinence (0-5%), and stricture (2-4%). Dr. George says that to prevent complications one should not retreat the posterior zone, and should plan above the capsule while avoiding near field heat. He then reviews a study on focal therapy compared to radical prostatectomy for non-metastatic prostate cancer that found mostly HIFU focal therapy to have a failure free survival (FFS) rate comparable to that of radical prostatectomy, never exceeding a difference of 13%. Dr. George also discusses another study of medium-term oncological outcomes in a large cohort of men treated with either focal or hemi-ablation using high-intensity focused ultrasonography for primary localized prostate cancer which showed FFS rates of 86% at 24 months, 64% at 60 months, and 54% at 96 months. He concludes with a final study which consolidated and compared HIFU’s outcomes to those of active monitoring, radiotherapy, and radical prostatectomy, showing that HIFU produces consistently better quality of life outcomes.

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