For over eight years now, the team of urologists headed by Dr. med. Joachim-Ernst Deuster have been treating carcinomas of the prostate with high-focused ultrasound (HIFU), a procedure that meanwhile has been recognised throughout Europe as a promising form of therapy.
Cancer of the prostate is the most common form of cancer in men. Each year, some 40,000 men are diagnosed as having a malignant enlargement of the prostate gland. Conventional forms of therapy that are offered include radical surgery, radiation therapy - in some cases involving implanted seeds -, and therapy with hormones. Radical surgery is generally associated with considerable side-effects, the most common ones being incontinence and impotence.
Now, however, the Sonablate 500 system, an ultrasound device manufactured by the American Focus Surgery company, has made it possible to perform therapy within a very short time of treatment, which furthermore goes easy on the patient's general well-being and is virtually free from side-effects.
Abroad, too, experts have recognised the advantages offered by the noninvasive and gentle treatment of PCa by means of ultrasound: the French Urology Society (AFU), for instance, has just recently issued recommendation guidelines for the treatment of uro-oncological disorders. After a systematic evaluation of the available literature, the HIFU method is now recommended as the primary form of therapy of prostate carcinoma in patients over 70 years of age and with a remaining life expectancy of at least seven years, as well as for younger patients with a comparable morbidity or with a tumour stage of T1 to T2. The Gleason score should be at most 7, and the PSA value should be lower than 15 ng/ml. HIFU is meanwhile also a standard therapeutical procedure in England and Italy.
"Depending on the individual patient's diagnosis, it may be appropriate to treat the prostate by laser three to four weeks before the HIFU procedure as a measure to reduce the volume of the prostate and to prevent urine retention", adds Dr. Thomas Dill, co-director of the Heidelberg-based Clinic for Prostate Therapy.
In the HIFU therapy method, an ultrasound probe is inserted into the rectum of the lightly anaesthetised patient; this probe then emits ultrasonic waves of four megahertz in an impulse-like manner. This ultrasound penetrates the surrounding tissue without causing any injury whatsoever. Since several ultrasound waves are emitted at one and the same time to converge on a focal point much in the same way as light is focused by a concave mirror, the result is that the local tissue is heated to as high a temperature as 100° Celsius. The tumour tissue is destroyed. Controlled by a computer, the focal point of the ultrasound waves then travels through the entire cancer tumor.
This form of therapy lasts just a few hours, and the patient can leave the clinic after just a short stay, usually on the day after the procedure. "The great advantage of our method of treatment is that most patients retain their sexual potency", reports Dr. med. Joachim-Ernst Deuster, HIFU pioneer in Germany and founder of the special clinic in Heidelberg, who goes on to say that over 500 PCa patients have been treated with the HIFU method and the Sonablate 500 system since August 2002.
Clinic contact data:
Klinik für Prostata-Therapie GmbH im :medZ
Bergheimer Straße 56a
D-69115 Heidelberg, Germany
Contact for media relations:
D-69251 Gaiberg, Germany
Phone +496223 / 46614