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HIFU technology may preserve quality of life for prostate cancer patients

Press releases may be edited for formatting or style | September 06, 2017 Ultrasound

Significantly, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) now recognizes HIFU focal therapy and created a specific billing code for this procedure so hospitals can submit reimbursement claims to payers when treating Medicare patients.

That development could make access to the technology more financially feasible for thousands of patients, as the American Cancer Society estimates that 161,360 new cases of prostate cancer will be diagnosed in 2017 and approximately six cases in 10 are diagnosed in men aged 65 or older.

To Dr. Parekh, the evolving acceptance of HIFU echoes the trajectory of advances in breast cancer treatments during the past few decades. “We went through a similar phase in breast cancer treatment where we started by removing the entire breast even for a small tumor,” he explained. “No one does that anymore and now we only destroy the tumor while sparing the unaffected breast area in most patients. We are applying that same concept to prostate cancer, where we can accurately identify and target the cancerous area of the prostate, treat it very specifically using HIFU technology, and spare the rest of the prostate from unnecessary treatment.”

For more than two dozen patients enrolled in the HIFU research protocol initiated at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine and the Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center, Dr. Parekh found that most of the patients showed successful ablation of the targeted area within the prostate on repeat MRIs after one month. After three months levels of PSA (prostate specific antigen) had dropped dramatically. “We’ll have to await the long-term follow-up on these patients in terms of future biopsies, and we’ll need 10 to 20 years of data to establish focal therapy as the standard of care,” he said.
If patients eventually experience a recurrence of prostate cancer after HIFU treatment, Dr. Parekh points out they can still undergo surgery, radiation, or even repeat HIFU treatment. “HIFU is a good option,” he said, “because it enables patients to keep this and other options open in the future while maintaining an optimal quality of life.”

About Dipen J. Parekh, MD
Dr. Parekh is chairman of the Department of Urology and director of Robotic Surgery at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine. Dr. Parekh's primary expertise is the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of urologic malignancies including tumors of the kidney, bladder, prostate, testis and male genitalia. He is one of the few urologic oncologists nationally who is fellowship trained at an SUO accredited fellowship program to perform advanced, complex Robotic Urologic Oncologic procedures for prostate, bladder and kidney cancers on a regular basis.

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