Prostate cancer management today was the focus of Part of of the article, specifically problems with how doctors tend to manage the disease. Common treatments can lead to more side effects than necessary and patients are most likely not being told about options like HIFU. That leads us to Part II of the article, why haven’t you heard of prostate cancer management with HIFU?
So you may be wondering, if HIFU is so great, why haven’t you heard about it more?
That would be a reasonable question. The answer may lie in the fact that HIFU is relatively new on the scene. It was cleared by the FDA in October 2015 for prostate tissue ablation, although it has be used by doctors outside the US for more than 10 years.
It may also be impacted by the fact that many urology practices and hospitals have made large investments in other treatment modalities, such as robotic surgery or target radiation therapy equipment and so they tend to drive their patients toward these therapy options
Although HIFU is a young competitor in the prostate cancer treatment landscape, however, it is my opinion that it will become a fierce source of competition.
In addition to HIFU being less invasive and only a one-time treatment, the cost of HIFU at $25,000, is considerably less than surgery or radiation. However, most patients are not fully aware of the total cost of a radical prostatectomy which usually comes with a two day stay in the hospital as well. Collectively surgery can cost up to $160,000 while radiation therapy may cost up to $100,000 with 20 separate treatments over a 4-6 week time period.
I believe that HIFU will ultimately change the way Americans, both men and women, will think of prostate cancer and how it can be treated while not significantly impacting their lives. Interestingly, a similar situation happened with breast cancer in the 1970 when Dr. George Crile Jr. of the Cleveland Clinic argued that some radical procedures for breast cancer and other diseases met the surgeon’s needs rather than the patient’s. He essentially stopped doing radical mastectomies, removal of the entire breasts, and advocated for only removing the tumor and a minimal amount of surrounding tissue, known as a lumpectomy approach.
In some ways, you could say that HIFU allows physicians to do a “lumpectomy” of the prostate, removing only the tumor and minimizing damage to surrounding areas. This would make the more radical treatments completely unnecessary.
Like with most things, prostate cancer management today is not completely straight forward. There are competing interests when it comes to treatments and each man must weigh all the pros and cons and talk to multiple physicians before making a treatment decision.
And as Paul Harvey would say, “NOW YOU KNOW THE REST OF THE STORY!”
Article contributed by: Dr. Herb Reimenschneider