Thursday, November 3, 2011

HIFU Cancer Therapy

Thanks to a cancer friend, she emailed me some information about HIFU therapy. After reading about this treatment, I am quite hopeful because it's minimal or non-invasive form of procedure. A patient can actually walk as early as 4 hours after the procedure. I have written to two hospitals in India and China and also to Malaysian Oncological Society (MOS) for more information. According to the MOS's website, the benefit of this HIFU treatment is that it only uses sound waves to kill the cancer cells and as such, it doesn’t have as many side effects as other types of cancer treatments already in use. If this procedure can be used on my kidney cancer, then I don't have to do open surgery.

This morning I received a reply from the University Hospital in China and  the professor said my case is suitable for HIFU treatment and the costs is estimated at US$10K. I have not decided yet and will have to discuss with my family members. This treatment, even if successful does not mean I am free of tumors. This treatment will allow the debulking of the main tumor from my body without significantly weakening the body. This treatment may also be able to salvage my right kidney. At the same time, it will stop the daily bleeding and loss of blood. Hopefully, with only the tumors left in the lungs after the treatment, I am able to give myself a better chance.

HIFU Therapy
HIFU Definition: A type of thermo-therapy or thermo-ablation for the treatment of benign prostateic hyperplasia and still under study for the treatment of cancer. An ultrasound probe focuses sound waves to an area as small as a grain of rice, similar to sunlight focused by a magnifying glass, elevating the tissue temperature to a point that the tissue cannot survive (70- to-90 degrees Centigrade or 158-194 degrees Fahrenheit).

HIFU is highly precise medical procedure using high-intensity focused ultrasound to heat and destroy pathogenic tissue rapidly. Clinical HIFU procedures are typically image-guided to permit treatment planning and targeting before applying a therapeutic or ablative level of ultrasound energy. When MRI is used for guidance, the technique is sometimes called Magnetic Resonance-guided Focused Ultrasound, often shortened to MRgFU.

When ultrasonography is used, the technique is sometimes called Ultrasound-guided Focused Ultrasound, often shortened to USgFUS. Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is used to identify tumours or fibroids in the body, before they are destroyed by the ultrasound. MRgFU is currently used in Australia, the United States, Canada, Israel, Europe, and Asia to treat uterine fibroids. Ultrasonography guided HIFU is currently used in the United Kingdom, Italy, Spain, Korea, Japan, Hong Kong, Malaysia, Russia, China, Romania and Bulgaria. Current clinical trials are underway, examining the possible use of HIFU in the treatment of cancers of the brain, breast, liver, bone, and prostate.

Doctors hope to use HIFU to kill cancer cells without damaging healthy cells. Chinese researchers were the first to lead the way using this treatment. They have done trials treating nearly 5,000 people with many different types of cancers. Researchers in Europe are now doing trials to find out if HIFU could be used for people unable to have surgery to remove their cancer. But they are not sure how well this will work as yet.

When can HIFU be used? 
HIFU is only useful to treat a single tumour or part of a large tumour. It doesn't treat tumours that are more widespread. This means that HIFU is not suitable for people with cancer that has spread to more than one place in their body. HIFU doesn't pass through either solid bone or air. This means that it is not suitable to treat every type of cancer.

What types of cancer HIFU might be able to treat?
Early stage prostate cancer
Kidney cancer
Primary and secondary liver cancer
Pancreatic cancer
Bladder cancer

HIFU is not a suitable treatment for:
Brain tumours
Lung cancer
Cancers in the pelvic area
Cancer that has spread to the lymph nodes
Skin cancers
Head and neck cancers
Mid to late stage prostate cancer


  1. Hi Chang,
    Thanks for the writeup. Is HIFU suitable for nose cancer? Where can I get more info on this therapy?

  2. Dear Steven,

    The information are scattered here and there. You can get some information here and also here

    Nose cancer is not listed but if you drop me an email, I will give you the email contact of a person at the 2nd Affiliated Hospital of Chongqing University of Medical Sciences where you can describe the nose cancer to her and she would contact the hospital's doctors to see if it can be treated.

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