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7 February 2002
High Intensity Ultrasound Treatment For Prostate Cancer
by George Atkinson

Ultrasound technology, long known to expectant parents and used in the monitoring of fetal conditions, is making new waves at the Indiana University School of Medicine for its value in fighting prostate cancer.

A Phase I clinical trial at the IU School of Medicine investigates the efficiency and safety of using high intensity focused ultrasound (HIFU) for prostate cancer. The minimally invasive procedure combines the latest in 3-D technology to plot the location of cancerous cells and then fires ultra-focused sound waves to destroy them.

The IU School of Medicine one of two trial sites in the nation approved by the Food and Drug Administration late last year, the other being Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio.

HIFU elevates tissue temperatures 70- to-90 degrees Centigrade (158-194 degrees Fahrenheit) in durations of up to four seconds, killing the cancer without damaging tissue surrounding the prostate, the small walnut-sized gland found at the base of the bladder.

"This minimally invasive surgical procedure is painless, bloodless and the energy from the ultrasound waves is non-ionizing and can be applied repeatedly," says Michael Koch, M.D., principal investigator of the trial and chairman of the school's Department of Urology. "We are enrolling 20 patients for this trial phase."

Among criteria for patients participating in the trial they must between 40 and 80 years old, have confined prostate cancer, no bleeding disorder and a prostate specific antigen level of 10 or less. PSA is a biological marker used in the early detection of prostate cancer. Patients who have failed previous external radiation for prostate cancer are also potential candidates.

The HIFU outpatient procedure can usually be completed within three hours, and the patient can go home after the anesthetic wears off. For cancer that is confined to the prostate, surgery and radiation are the common treatment options. Complete removal of the prostate can cause incontinence and impotence. Radiation therapy can cause rectal and bladder damage, impotence and difficult urination.

About 189,000 males in the United States are diagnosed annually with some form of prostate cancer, second only to lung cancer as deadly disease among men, reports the American Cancer Society. Although men can get the disease at any age, it's more common among those over 50 years old. Prostate cancer is twice as common in African Americans as it is in white American males.

For more information about enrolling in HIFU trial, call 317-630-6044.

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