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Prostate Cancer: Understanding Your Treatment Options

June 27, 2018

Other than skin cancer, prostate cancer is the most common cancer in American men. Although it is common, it is still one of the least well-known cancers and a diagnosis can cause confusion about treatment, symptoms, and potential side effects. In search of a minimally-invasive treatment for your prostate cancer? Through our partnership with Vituro Health, Urology Centers of Alabama is the first and only in the state to offer High Intensity Focused Ultrasound, or HIFU treatment.

Though HIFU was cleared for use in the United States in October 2015, the technology is not new. HIFU has been in development for over 30 years and was first used to treat prostate cancer in Europe in 1995. HIFU has traditionally been used to treat the entire prostate gland. However, recent studies suggest that partial gland, or focal, HIFU treatment may be a safer and effective treatment in select patients. The largest study to date on focal HIFU treatment shows that HIFU preserves patient quality of life. “This technology allows us to offer men a surgery-free option to treat their prostate cancer. With the precision of HIFU, risk of side effects is significantly reduced” says Dr. Andrew Strang of Urology Centers of Alabama.

Birmingham resident and HIFU patient Vann Burchfield has a long history with Urology Centers of Alabama, even though he wasn’t diagnosed with prostate cancer until 2017. When UCA opened their Homewood location over 20 years ago, Mr. Burchfield provided the entertainment for the evening. A well-known saxophonist, Burchfield holds the world record for longest continuous note, previously held by Kenny G. In 2011 his father was diagnosed with prostate cancer. “When I was taking him to appointments, the doctors started telling me that I should get checked,” said Burchfield.

1 in 7 men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer in their lifetime. If you have a family history, that chance increases to 1 in 3. “Because the symptoms are often silent, early detection is vital. At age 50, men should start having conversations with their doctor about PSA testing,” recommends Strang.

When Mr. Burchfield began getting his PSA level checked regularly, he noticed it rapidly increasing. “The first time it was 0, and two years later my PSA had risen to 2.5,” said Burchfield. “Shortly after my father passed away, I got checked again and it had doubled from the last time. My PSA was then 5.0.” After that PSA test, Burchfield began to talk with Dr. Strang about his options. “Mr. Burchfield expressed an interest in minimally-invasive treatment. Since he had cancer that was localized to one area and good overall health, he was great candidate for HIFU,” says Strang.

Like many of the newly diagnosed, Burchfield immediately began doing research and gathering information to evaluate his options. “When I learned about HIFU, it was a no-brainer,” he recalls. “From the very beginning, I knew I wanted a treatment that would be as precise as possible, since I only had one small section of tumor. I also wanted to treat my prostate cancer in the quickest, most effective way.

After discussions with Dr. Strang, Mr. Burchfield had no doubts in his decision. “HIFU has changed my entire outlook on life,” Burchfield reflects. “I still have a bright future ahead of me, thanks to this treatment and Dr. Andrew Strang.”

Every patient is different and there are many important factors to be taken into consideration to determine if a patient is a good candidate for HIFU. Request more information to find out the risks and benefits of each treatment option.


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