High-Intensity Focused Ultrasound (HIFU)

Prostate cancer develops in about one in nine men. There are numerous treatment options available, but some of them are better for specific people compared to others.

High-intensity focused ultrasound (HIFU) is one treatment option that is minimally invasive. It also allows for fewer side effects and personalized treatment.

How Does HIFU Work?

This treatment uses sound waves that are focused and precise to destroys cancer cells in the prostate. The doctor can target these sound waves to the precise area where the cancer is growing. There is no radiation used for this treatment, instead it is ultrasound energy.

The doctor directs the sound waves through your rectal wall. This treatment is minimally invasive, and it allows the healthy tissue to avoid becoming damaged during the treatment.

In general, the sound waves burn the tissue to destroy it. This is similar to how you can burn something using a magnifying glass on a sunny day. However, instead of using heat to do this burning, it uses sound. There is a transducer that emits the sound waves, allowing the doctor to aim the small device properly.

Why It is Done

This treatment helps to treatment prostate cancer. It may be used with other treatments or used by itself. The benefits of this treatment include:

  • It is typically performed on an outpatient basis
  • There is no radiation used with this treatment
  • The side effects are limited
  • There is no blood loss or surgery needed for HIFU
  • The treatment is targeted and personalized
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This treatment can be done on specific areas to target cancer or it can be performed on the whole prostate. HIFU might be considered if your prostate cancer is a recurrence or if the cancer is newly diagnosed.


Doctors will first create a plan of treatment before administering HIFU. This may include getting a biopsy of your prostate and performing and MRI. This allows them to learn more about your cancer so that they can personalize your HIFU treatment.

How HIFU is Performed

On the day of your procedure, the healthcare staff will get you comfortable. The procedure typically uses the following steps:

  • A thin tube is passed through your penis into your bladder to drain the urine
  • The probe for HIFU is inserted into your rectum
  • The high-intensity ultrasound is used to destroy the cancer cells
  • The doctor looks at a screen to ensure that it is properly placed
  • The probe may be moved around to target more than one area
  • The probe and catheter are removed

Depending on the area being targeted, it takes one to three hours to perform most HIFU procedures. After a short while in recovery, you can usually go home.

When you are diagnosed with prostate cancer, your doctor may present more than one treatment option to you. Learning more about HIFU ensures that you have a general understanding so that you can work with your doctor to determine if it is a viable treatment option.