HIFU (high intensity focused ultrasound) is a targeted therapy for prostate cancer which uses high-frequency ultrasound waves to destroy cancer cells in the prostate. 

Key points

Why choose Urocare?

At Urocare London, we’re proud to be part of the Focal Therapy Users Group, offering High Intensity Focused Ultrasound (HIFU) as an advanced treatment option for men with localised prostate cancer. HIFU represents a cutting-edge approach in the fight against prostate cancer, focusing on precision and minimal invasiveness to enhance patient outcomes and quality of life.

What is HIFU?

HIFU is a non-invasive, targeted therapy that uses high-frequency ultrasound waves to destroy cancer cells within the prostate gland. This technique is specifically designed for the treatment of localised prostate cancer, which has not spread beyond the prostate.

Who is HIFU Suitable For?

High Intensity Focused Ultrasound is most suitable for men with localised prostate cancer that has not spread beyond the prostate gland. Ideal candidates for HIFU are those who:

How does HIFU work?

The procedure involves the insertion of an ultrasound probe into the rectum. This probe releases high-frequency sound waves that penetrate the wall of the rectum to target and heat cancer cells in the prostate to a high temperature, effectively killing them without harming surrounding tissues.

Is HIFU a major operation?

No, HIFU is not considered a major operation. It is a minimally invasive, day-case procedure that typically allows patients to return home the same day. The treatment focuses ultrasound waves on the affected area with precision, requiring no incisions and generally resulting in fewer complications and a quicker recovery than traditional surgery.

What are the benefits of HIFU?

What to expect during the HIFU procedure

Post-procedure care and recovery

Following HIFU treatment, patients can generally expect to return home the same day. Recovery is swift, with most men resuming normal activities shortly after. Specific post-procedure guidelines will be provided to ensure optimal healing and comfort.

Potential side effects and risks

While HIFU is associated with a lower risk of side effects, some men may experience:

Alternative treatments

For men with prostate cancer, several treatment options besides HIFU are available, including:

Radical Prostatectomy

Surgical removal of the entire prostate gland. Suitable for localised cancer but with a higher risk of side effects.


Cryotherapy involves freezing cancer cells. Suitable for early-stage cancer or cancer that has recurred after radiation therapy.

Active Surveillance

Monitoring the cancer closely without immediate treatment. Suitable for low-risk, slow-growing prostate cancer.

Hormone Therapy

Reduces the production of testosterone, which can slow the growth of cancer cells, often used in conjunction with other treatments.

Frequently asked questions

What is the recovery time after HIFU?

Recovery time after HIFU is generally quick compared to traditional prostate cancer treatments. Most men find that they can return to their normal daily activities within a few days. However, it’s important to follow your doctor’s specific recommendations regarding post-treatment activities.

Some men may experience mild symptoms such as urinary discomfort or frequency, which usually improve within a few weeks. The full benefits of the treatment in terms of cancer control may take a few weeks to a few months to become evident, and regular follow-up appointments are crucial during this period.

Will I feel pain during the HIFU procedure?

Patients are typically given general or spinal anaesthesia, which means you will not feel pain during the HIFU procedure. Post-procedure discomfort is generally minimal. 

Any mild pain or discomfort following the procedure can usually be managed effectively with over-the-counter pain relief medications. Your healthcare team will provide you with detailed instructions on how to manage any post-procedural symptoms at home.

How effective is HIFU in treating prostate cancer?

The effectiveness of HIFU in treating localised prostate cancer is promising, with many studies showing favourable outcomes in terms of cancer control and preservation of urinary and sexual function.

The success of HIFU treatment is often measured by the reduction in prostate-specific antigen (PSA) levels, imaging results, and biopsy findings. It’s important to have realistic expectations and discuss the potential outcomes and success rates with your healthcare provider, as these can vary based on individual factors such as the stage and grade of cancer.

Can prostate cancer recur after HIFU treatment?

As with any treatment for prostate cancer, there is a possibility of recurrence after HIFU. The risk of recurrence depends on several factors, including the initial stage and aggressiveness of the cancer, as well as how completely the cancer was treated. 

Regular monitoring through PSA tests and possibly additional imaging or biopsy is essential after HIFU treatment to detect any signs of recurrence early. In cases where cancer recurs, additional treatment options can be discussed.