Questions About Prostate Cancer

What is the prostate gland?

The prostate gland is part of the male reproductive system that sits in front of the rectum below the bladder and surrounding the urethra. In a healthy man, it is around the size and shape of a walnut. When it becomes diseased or enlarged, it often causes problems with the urinary tract.

What is prostate cancer?

Cancer that originates in the prostate gland is known as prostate cancer. According to the American Cancer Society, it is the leading cause of cancer deaths for male patients, and around 200,000 new cases are diagnosed each year in the US. Most prostate cancers grow slowly in their early stages, and as long as they remain localized in the prostate gland, the cancers can be treated using several viable treatments.

What happens when prostate cancer spreads?

Prostate cancer may eventually spread outside of the prostate gland, a process known as metastasis. Prostate cancers spread into the prostate capsule and fat cells surrounding the prostate, which can eventually spread to the seminal vesicles and bladder. In late stages, it spreads to the lymph nodes or bones. This is what causes most deaths from prostate cancer.

Why are regular prostate checkups so important?

Men over the age of 40 or 50 should have regular prostate checks, because early stage prostate cancer, which is the cancer that is the most treatable, has no obvious symptoms. Regular checks give doctors the best possibility of finding the cancer while it can be treated effectively.

What treatments are available for prostate cancer?

Prostate cancer that is still localized has multiple treatment options available. Your doctor will discuss the benefits and risks of each of these with you. You will need to weigh the benefits against the risks when choosing your treatment.

Questions About HIFU and the Sonablate 500

Is HIFU a new option for treating prostate cancer?

No. Research into HIFU began in the 1950s at Indiana University. In 1994 the University of Vienna in Austria performed the first human prostate cancer study using the Sonablate 500’s predecessor, the Sonablate 200. Drs. Marberger and Madersbacher tested 29 patients using the device. After treatment, the doctors surgically removed the prostates of the patients to inspect the results. They found that the treatment was effective and safe enough to be repeatable. A year later another study determined that the entire gland could safely be destroyed using HIFU. Official use of the Sonablate 200 began in 1999. The newer Sonablate 500 received the CE mark in Europe in 2001. That same year, clinical studies began at Indiana University. While the Sonablate 500 still awaits FDA approval in the US, close to 100 Sonablate HIFU centers on six continents are currently treating patients. Over 250 surgeons are trained on using the Sonablate 500, and over 7,000 men have been treated with the device.

Where can I view HIFU statistics?

Check our clinical reports on the clinical data page for more information.

What cells are destroyed with HIFU treatment?

HIFU treatment destroys the entire prostate gland, including the cancer cells, using overlapping treatment zones to target and destroy the tissue. Clinics in Europe are currently studying using HIFU for focal therapy, which targets just the tumors, rather than destroying the entire gland.

How is the urethra protected during HIFU treatment?

The Sonablate 500 allows the doctor to see the tissue before and during treatments. This allows for mapping the treatment so that it avoids the urethra and other important areas around the prostate gland. Because the urethra is a different type of tissue than the prostate gland, the physician can avoid it during treatment, helping to protect urinary function.

Where can I have HIFU treatment?

HIFU has not yet been approved for use in the United States. It is currently still in investigational stages, which means the FDA has not yet made a decision about its safety or effectiveness. If you are interested in HIFU treatment with the Sonablate 500, talk to your doctor about finding treatment in an international clinic. Currently, clinics in Canada, India, Mexico, South America, and the Caribbean offer treatment with the Sonablate 500.

Will my insurance pay for HIFU?

Insurance policies vary from individual to individual, but most US based insurance providers will not cover treatment since it is not approved by the FDA. The same is true for Medicare. However, some insurance providers will offer reimbursement for the procedure. Check with your insurance carrier to find out your options.

How long should I plan to stay at the treatment location?

Most patients arrive a day before treatment. This allows them to get settled in their accommodations and gives extra time in the event of travel delays. Most are able to return home one or two days after treatment. However, some patients opt to spend a few extra days in the area to rest and recuperate from treatment.

How do I schedule a treatment or find out more about HIFU?

If you wish to find out more about HIFU, talk to past patients, or schedule treatment, Contact Dr. Bilowus.

Questions About Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia

What is Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia?

Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia, or BPH, is a condition caused when the prostate gland becomes enlarged. It is common in men over the age of 50 and causes no serious health risks. However, if the prostate is large enough, it can cause uncomfortable urinary symptoms.

Can BPH be treated with HIFU?

HIFU can treat BPH. In areas outside of the US where the Sonablate has received approval, it is commonly used to treat by BPH and prostate cancer. For BPH patients, only a portion of the gland is targeted, which takes around an hour to complete.