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We’ve extensively covered the symptoms, causes, screening methods and different treatments for stomach cancer. Now we are turning the focus to a ground-breaking treatment for prostate cancer.
Cancer is a diagnosis we all fear hearing one day and its prevention of this disease and its many forms that provide many of us with the necessary motivation to live a healthy, balanced life. But should you find yourself diagnosed with cancer, choosing a treatment method, or methods, can be overwhelming. What is important to you? Duration? Pain? You would also want to know you’re getting the very latest and best treatments to help you overcome the disease as quickly and comfortably as possible.
When it comes to advances in the treatment of prostate cancer, one treatment stands out as truly unique: high-intensity focused ultrasound, or HIFU. This one-of-a-kind procedure is changing the way prostate cancer is treated, but it isn’t available everywhere. For those living in Japan, one place to access this groundbreaking treatment is at Ocean Clinic in Yokohama, which is helmed by Dr. Makoto Suzuki, Chairperson of Medical Corporation Seishinkai.
First of all, a bit about how HIFU works. This treatment utilizes ultrasound energy-generated heat to eliminate cancer cells within the prostate. To administer the treatment, a probe is inserted into the rectum to administer heat between 80 and 90 degrees Celsius (176 to 194 Fahrenheit) directly to the cancer cells. This powerful heat has the ability to destroy the cancer the cells in a way that is non-invasive. The key thing to note about HIFU is precision.
A non-surgical procedure like HIFU has many potential benefits. First of all, there is little to no damage to the tissues surrounding the cancer cells due to the precise, targeted nature of the procedure. Second, a non-surgical procedure like HIFU means a faster recovery time for patients — the entire procedure lasts only a few hours or so and most patients typically recover in about a week. Lastly, this procedure has the ability to eliminate the need for radiation treatments in some patients, which can be incredibly taxing on the body.
HIFU has been used to treat cervical cancer in patients in Europe and Asia for more than 15 years, as well as in other parts of the world. It was approved by the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 2015, following more than a decade of clinical trials to prove the treatment’s efficacy. While there are many benefits to HIFU, any medical procedure has the potential for side effects. Some possible side effects associated with HIFU include:
- Protein in the urine (proteinuria)
- Pain in the treatment area
- Trouble urinating or an inability to urinate
- Urinary tract infection
- Inflammation in the testicles (epididymitis),
- Erectile dysfunction or impotence
- Rectal or urinary incontinence
- Blood in the semen (hematospermia)
- Swelling of the prostate (prostatitis)
- Retrograde ejaculation
Who qualifies for HIFU? This treatment is best suited for men with cancer located solely in the prostate, also referred to as localized or organ-confined cancer. From there, the doctor will determine which type of HIFU treatment is best for the patient. If their cancer is only present in one lobe of the prostate, focal HIFU is administered solely to the affected area. If the cancer has spread to more than one part of the prostate, whole-prostate HIFU is a better option, as it treats the entire organ for cancer cells. Should be cancer return at a later date or not be completely destroyed after the first procedure, it can be administered again.
“I was quite apprehensive of having my cancer treated through surgery, because my uncle, who is now 91, also had prostate cancer when he was 74. After his operation, he spent two weeks in the hospital and continued to suffer from incontinence, which greatly affected his quality of life.” said R.B., a patient of Dr. Suzuki. “After the procedure, I spent one night in a hotel above the clinic. I suffered absolutely no pain and the next day, I could go home and resume my work and life, almost as normal.”
This patient did have to use a catheter for a short time following the procedure, but this is to be expected with any treatment method for prostate cancer.
As mentioned earlier, HIFU isn’t available in many places, but for residents of Japan, there is an opportunity to experience its potential. If you or someone you know has been diagnosed with prostate cancer, take advantage of the opportunity to experience the very latest and best when it comes to treatments by contacting Dr. Suzuki at Ocean Clinic in Yokohama to discuss options like HIFU. Open seven days a week, the clinic accommodates both Japanese and foreign patients with easy-to-book appointments that can be made over the phone and online.
Don’t wait — contact the HealthyTokyo Concierge to set up your appointment for a consultation with Dr. Suzuki to learn more about HIFU and whether or not it’s right for you.