Side effects of HIFU

High intensity focused ultrasound (HIFU) uses a small, targeted beam to kill cancer cells. In the process, there can be some damage to the prostate, resulting in side effects like urinary problems.

As with any treatment for prostate cancer (matepukupuku repeure), there is a risk of damage to the prostate. Treatments like surgery or radiation therapy (radiotherapy), for example, typically cause urinary problems and erection difficulties, but they may be temporary. The HIFU beam uses highly-targeted heat to the prostate and may cause some issues as well.

Problems are more likely to happen if you’ve had more than one HIFU treatment, or if you’re having other treatments at the same time.

Here are some odds to
consider with focal HIFU

1 in 100

Around 1 in 100 tāne who have focal HIFU will have some minor urine leakage, which is pretty comparable to the standard treatments of surgery and radiation therapy (radiotherapy).

2 in 3

2 in 3 tāne who have good erections before treatment will still have good erections after treatment. 1 in 3 tāne will need to have tablets or other treatments to help the erections. Many tāne notice the volume of ejaculate is reduced, but this is not a problem for most tāne.

1 in 4

1 in 4 tāne who have a focal HIFU treatment will need another by 5 years. 1 in 15 tāne will need surgery or radiation therapy after a focal HIFU treatment. Surgery is usually more difficult after focal HIFU.

Side effects you might experience
right after focal HIFU include:

  • blood in your urine (wee/mimi)

  • blood from your stool (poo/tūtae)

  • blood in your semen

  • fever 

  • swelling in the testicles

If you have fever or swelling in the testicles see your doctor urgently, as you may have an infection.

What about
whole HIFU?

With whole HIFU, there are a lot of the same side effects, but they may be to a greater degree. It is best to speak with your doctor to understand more about whole HIFU.

Research is currently underway on HIFU to learn more about its risks and how effective it is at treating prostate cancer. HIFU has not been approved for general use in New Zealand to treat prostate cancer.

What's next?

Now that you've read up on Side effects of HIFU, here are some related articles to explore as you continue to build your knowledge and understanding of this topic.
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