This morning I read an article in the Times (search Ultrasound on the Times online website and you'll find it immediately). In short, a study of 172 men whose cancer has not progressed beyond the prostate underwent High Frequency Ultrasound (what I shall refer to as HIFU). One year later 92 percent (or 158 men) were completely free of cancer. This struck me as a pretty amazing study. Completely eliminated the cancerous tumour! In the majority of test subjects! Why isn't HIFU being implemented for every cancerous growth from here to Timbaktu. After a moment's consideration however, one or two skeptical thoughts started to niggle at the back of my mind. Firstly, the Times (demonstrating, in my opinion, poor medical and health reporting that is, I believe, of a standard typical in the UK) failed to mention whether the study was controlled, how rigorous it was, and who it was conducted by.
Also, after doing some brief preliminary research online, I not only find a troubling lack of controlled, double-blind studies by independent research groups regarding HIFU available, but also views from prominent Cancer & Health bodies that are glaringly inconsistent with the Times article. I'm not allowed to post links yet, but please visit Cancer Research UK and NHS website respectively for elabouration on the following quotes regarding HIFU:
"If you are invited to go into a trial of HIFU for prostate cancer, your doctors need to make sure you know
- What is involved in having the treatment
- That we don't know everything about side effects yet
- That we don't fully understand how long term effects of HIFU compare to other treatments
- What other treatment options they have"
"High intensity focused ultrasound (HIFU) and cryotherapy are not recommended for men with localised prostate cancer other than in the context of controlled clinical trials comparing their use with established interventions."
Aside from my obvious problem with the poor, and I think skewed, reporting by the Times, I have the distinct disadvantage of not having much knowledge or sources with which to approach the subject/procedure from a better informed position. Does anybody else medically savy have other experience or links to further reading. My only frame of reference for ultrasound is the monitoring of the development of the fetus in utero and being aware that they use an Ultrasonic frequency (20Mhz?). If so, what frequency does HIFU operate at?
Would appreciate any feedback or comments! Whether on UK science reporting or HIFU.