High Intensity Focused Ultrasound (HIFU) is a new non-invasive treatment for prostate cancer that uses sound waves to heat and destroy tissue in the prostate. A beam of ultrasound is brought to a tight focus within the body to produce a region of high energy density. The tissue in this region is destroyed without any damage to overlying or intervening structures.
HIFU is only useful for the treatment of a single tumor or part of a larger tumor. It is unable to treat tumors that are more widespread or metastatic. It also cannot transmit energy through air. Since the prostate is situated deep within the pelvis, HIFU can be used to treat prostate cancer through the wall of the rectum.
The treatment is currently available in the United States through clinical trials. It is expected to be indicated for localized disease, and can serve as a second-line treatment after external radiation therapy or surgery. Georgetown University is one of only 10 HIFU sites in the United States, and John Lynch, MD, director of the Prostate Center is the national principle investigator for the trial.