In the UK, HIFU is used as a treatment for recurrent prostate cancer and is not usually used to treat early, localised prostate cancer. The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) currently supports the use of HIFU to treat localised prostate cancer but wishes men to understand that research into the results compared to surgery and radiotherapy are not as great. Its guidelines on HIFU as a treatment for localised prostate cancer can be viewed on the NICE website. 

HIFU is also not widely available in the UK and may only be available at specialist centres.

How HIFU Works

HIFU uses ultrasound (high-energy sound waves) to destroy cancer cells. It is usually used for prostate cancer that has returned after a first treatment such as radiotherapy. When high frequency sound waves are concentrated on body tissues, the tissues heat up and die.  

Treatment is performed by inserting a probe into the rectum. The probe identifies the prostate gland and then ultrasound waves are targeted at the cancerous tissue. 

It usually takes around 3-4 hours to perform HIFU under a general anaesthetic.  


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