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Ultrasound Technology That's Making Prostate Cancer Diagnosis & Treatment Easier

Posted on December 22, 2022 by Henry Ford Health Staff

Routine cancer screenings save lives. Most people probably know this, yet some people still avoid them. “People will say, ‘oh I hate colonoscopy,’ or ‘I don’t like being in a confined space for an MRI,’ or ‘I don’t like the anxiety that comes with waiting for results,’” says Craig Rogers, M.D., a urologic oncologist at Henry Ford Health. “Anything we can do to make the process more streamlined will increase the likelihood that people will get the tests they need to catch cancer early.”  

With two new advances in prostate cancer ultrasound technology, that’s exactly what’s happening. Here, Dr. Rogers shares how the high-resolution micro ultrasound and high-intensity focused ultrasound could make diagnosing and treating prostate cancer easier.  

1. High-Resolution Micro Ultrasound For Prostate Cancer Screening

Traditionally, getting a prostate cancer diagnosis requires a few steps. The first step is taking a prostate-specific antigen blood test. If your results come back abnormal, your primary care doctor will refer you to a urologist, who may order a prostate MRI to scan the prostate for tumors. If there are abnormal findings on the MRI (or on lab tests or a physical exam, which you may also need), you might have to schedule another appointment to get a biopsy.   

But now, instead of an MRI, the high-resolution micro ultrasound—which is 300% more accurate than a regular ultrasound—can meticulously scan the prostate for tumors. If a tumor is found, the ultrasound machine is equipped with the tools needed for your doctor to conduct a biopsy right then and there, while you watch what’s happening on a screen.   

“Say you’re having a teeth cleaning and the dentist finds a cavity,” says Dr. Rogers. “They could take care of it immediately, or you could come back in a few weeks. But you might just want to move forward with it, right? This high-resolution ultrasound allows us to locate a tumor and conduct a biopsy right on the spot.”  

Not only does this potentially require fewer trips to the doctor’s office, but it can also reduce anxiety. “Some people leave with an immediate reassurance that their prostate looks normal,” says Dr. Rogers. “Others leave with an expedited plan for evaluation with less waiting time.”   

2. High-Intensity Focused Ultrasound (HIFU) For Prostate Cancer Treatment

If you are diagnosed with prostate cancer that hasn’t spread outside of the prostate, you may need a procedure to treat the tumor. Conventional treatments include surgically removing the prostate and radiating the entire prostate. But an emerging treatment option for localized prostate cancer, called high-intensity focused ultrasound (or HIFU), only treats the tumor. 

“HIFU uses high frequency ultrasound waves to burn the tumor while keeping the rest of the prostate tissue intact,” says Dr. Rogers. “This can reduce the risk of side effects commonly associated with treatment for prostate cancer, including impotence and urinary incontinence.”

Since HIFU is non-surgical and radiation free, it also allows for a faster treatment and recovery time. In fact, you can be in and out of the hospital in just a few hours. While this procedure may not be appropriate for everyone who is diagnosed with localized prostate cancer, it is a great option for those who aren’t interested in active surveillance, and for those who want to avoid treating the entire prostate with surgery or radiation. 

“Earlier diagnosis, earlier treatment and better quality of life has always been our goal—and that is what these ultrasound technologies are allowing us to do,” says Dr. Rogers.  

To find a cancer specialist, visit henryford.com/cancer or call 1-888-777-4167

Craig Rogers, M.D., is a urologic oncologist and the chair of urology at Henry Ford Health. Dr. Rogers sees patients at Henry Ford Cancer—Detroit, Henry Ford Hospital and Henry Ford West Bloomfield Hospital.

Categories : FeelWell

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