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Chris Woolmams / Catherine Woollams
Killing cancer with ultrasound

Originally published in icon  Issue 1 2006


Killing Cancer With Ultrasound

As readers know, we have been providing a lot of information on hypothermia and the ability of ultrasound to kill cancer cells. We see this as quite possibly one of the treatments of the future for cancer. By and large it is non-invasive, takes only a couple of days (for prostate cancer it has an 87 per cent plus 5-year survival rate compared with the norm of 56 per cent in the UK) and it can be used to treat a variety of cancers.

We have presented articles on Dr John Holt in Australia, on Stepping Hill Hospital, Stockport, UK (where Consultant Urologist - Stephen Brown is undertaking the UK´s first controlled test with prostate cancer), on its use with kidney cancer and on the 61 centres around Europe using High Intensity Ultrasound (HIFU). Many of our readers have expressed an interest in the treatment.

Now in our postbag comes a leaflet and DVD on Haifu. So what´s the difference? Well, for your information I will quote directly from the literature received. (In other words don´t hold me accountable for the answers!

Can the process kill cancer cells?
The cancer cells in the area treated are killed.

How long does the treatment take?
It can take several hours depending on the size and position of the tumour. With very large tumours it may take more than one session.

What are the side effects?
Following treatment there may be some minor skin blisters, some swelling over the treatment site and at least half the patients describe some pain. Like any treatment conducted under a general anaesthetic there is always some risk.

Does the process hurt?
During the treatment the patient is asleep under anaesthetic and will feel no pain.

How long do I have to stay in hospital?
Every patient so far has been able to go home the following day.

Can HIFU be used to treat any other forms of tumour?
HIFU has been used to treat a variety of tumours including liver, kidneys, soft tissue tumours, breast, pancreas, uterine fibroids and, using other kinds of machines prostate tumours.

Does it stop me having any other kinds of treatment?
No. Currently, due to the nature of ´our´ (sic) clinical trials most patients have had other treatments prior to HIFU.

How long has this technology been available?
It´s been used in China since 1977 and the Oxford Churchill Hospital has had the only unit in the Western Hemisphere since 2001.

What´s the difference between HIFU and Haifu?
HIFU is an acronym of High Intensity Focussed Ultrasound. Haifu is a registered brand name owned by the Changqing Haifu Technology Company, China.

The literature sent to me supplied the following contact details Ultrasound Therapeutics Ltd, Suite 2, 1st Floor, New Mansion House, 173/191 Wellington Road South, Stockport, Cheshire, SK1 3UA, England. (Tel 0161 477 6111).

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