You may be exploring HIFU as a treatment for prostate cancer for yourself or someone you know, or perhaps you have just read some of the recent news that has come out about the non-invasive treatment option. Whatever the case may be, as you explore it, it may be helpful for you to be familiar with the most basic principles of HIFU.
Although HIFU was only recently approved for us in the U.S. for prostate disease (in October 2015), HIFU technology has previously been used successfully since the 1970s to treat other types of cancer and diseases, including breast, kidney, liver and pancreatic cancer. Early results of HIFU’s application for prostate cancer treatment show approximately 86 percent of men treated with HIFU, a non-invasive prostate treatment, were free of prostate cancer after treatment.
HIFU creates heat by focusing ultrasound waves to destroy tissue without harming surrounding tissue. When the sound waves come together they create a focal point, and they produce temperatures high enough to destroy prostatic issue and cancerous cells.
You can actually think about it the same way you might think about how a magnifying glass can capture sunlight to burn a hole in a leaf. the magnifying glass acts as a transducer.
The light waves pass through the magnifying glass and then are focused to a specific point. At that point, the temperature is elevating very rapidly and a hole is burned in the leaf. However, if you pass your hand between the magnifying glass and the leaf it wouldn’t burn your hand. Your hand would only be harmed if you put it at the focal point.