Meet Dr. Michael Wolff, a urologist in North Carolina that has been treating HIFU patients since 2007. Learn more about how he become interested in medicine and what he sees as the main benefits of HIFU.
1. What was your main motivation in becoming a doctor? When did you decide on this path?
I have always enjoyed science and technology and interacting with people. Becoming a physician has allowed me to do what I love to do.
2. How did you decide on your particular specialty? Why urology?
During my medical school rotations, the urologists were always the happiest physicians and most fun to be around. I also liked all the technology that was used by urologists.
3. What is your favorite part about being a physician?
It’s never a dull moment and interacting with the people at the time of their greatest need.
4. When did you first learn about HIFU as a treatment for prostate cancer?
One of my patients traveled to Canada in 2007 for HIFU treatment and encouraged me to learn more about it.
5. When did you become involved in treating patients using HIFU technology?
I treated my first HIFU patient in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico in 2007.
6. What do you typically tell a patient when they are first diagnosed with prostate cancer?
I tell them that prostate cancer is one of the most curable types of cancer and that they should look at their diagnosis as a “bump in the road” rather than “the end of the road.” I then explain all the current treatment options, including active surveillance, surgery, radiation, and HIFU.
7. What different types of treatments do you offer men with localized prostate cancer?
Surgery, radiation, and HIFU.
8. In your professional opinion, what are the benefits of HIFU as a treatment for prostate cancer?
HIFU offers a lower risk of side effects such as incontinence and impotence. HIFU usually requires only one treatment and recovery is relatively quick. A newer benefit of HIFU is that it can be used to treat small prostate cancer tumors focally which allows for even faster recovery and lower risk of side effects.
9. How do you decide if HIFU is right for a patient?
I generally offer HIFU treatment in patient with a low or intermediate risk disease.
10. In general, how quickly do your patients recover after HIFU? What do you tell men to expect?
A patient that has a total gland HIFU treatment will generally return to most normal activities in 2 to 4 weeks. A patient that has a focal treatment will have a shorter recovery period of 1 to 3 weeks.
11. There are obviously a lot of different treatments for prostate cancer; where do you think HIFU best fits in the prostate cancer landscape?
HIFU is best suited for men that have low or intermediate risk disease who are interested in preserving urinary control and normal sexual function.
12. In recent years there has been some discussion about over-treating prostate cancer and even changing guidelines on when men should start getting regular screening for prostate cancer. What do you tell men?
Radical prostatectomy and external beam radiation therapy may indeed represent “over-treatment” of many men with prostate cancer. HIFU allows for “sufficient treatment” rather than “over treatment” in those men. The most recent studies indicate that more that 50% of men on active surveillance will require treatment within 10 years of diagnosis. Active surveillance is “under-treatment ” in those men and HIFU may be a good choice in those cases. The incidence of advanced prostate cancer has increased due to the decline in screening. This indicates to me that the current screening guidelines need to be revised.