A minimally invasive technique known as hemigland high-intensity focused ultrasound ablation (HIFU) was found to be as safe and effective as commonly administered treatments for prostate cancer, such as surgery or radiation. These findings were published in the Journal of Urology.

While considered the standard of care, surgery and radiation can result in erectile dysfunction or urinary incontinence. Andre Luis de Castro Abreu, MD, of the University of Southern California in Los Angeles, and colleagues were looking to see whether hemigland HIFU ablation would be comparatively effective in treating prostate cancer but with fewer side effects.

Done as an outpatient procedure, HIFU ablation involves using ultrasound to selectively remove cancerous prostate tissue. HIFU has been used to treat prostate cancer around the world for many years, but it was only approved by the Food and Drug Administration for use in the United States in 2015.


The team administered hemigland HIFU to a group of 100 men between December 2015 and December 2019. At baseline, the group represented a wide range of prostate cancer progression risk, from very low to high. On average, they were tracked for 20 months following the ultrasound.

The researchers found that 91% of the group did not need require more radical treatment options following HIFU. What’s more, 73% of the study population did not experience cancer recurrence, metastasis or death and did not require further treatments. While some participants experienced minor urinary issues, no cases of incontinence occurred. Overall, the treatment was safe and helped the participants maintain their quality of life.

“This positive data empowers urologists to use focal HIFU ablation to effectively address prostate cancer without the intrinsic side effects of radical treatments,” Abreu said in a press release.

Click here to read the study abstract in the Journal of Urology.