150 Milestone: Robotic Procedure Changes Prostate Cancer Care

UCSF Health leads the way with high-intensity focused ultrasound procedure that is less risky with a quicker recovery.

By Melinda Krigel

UCSF Health has performed 150 robotic focal high-intensity focused ultrasound (HIFU) procedures for patients living with prostate cancer, becoming the first on the West Coast and the first UC Health System to reach that milestone.

The HIFU technology uses ultrasound waves to destroy cancerous prostate tissue. By focusing these waves on the affected area, HIFU causes localized heating that destroys the cancer cells within the gland without harming healthy tissue nearby. The technique’s precision allows for safely repeating the process as many times as needed. The ultrasound waves can pass through layers of tissue without causing harm until they reach their target.

Robotic focal HIFU treatments offer several advantages compared to other treatment options. This therapy enables precise local targeting in one session under general anesthesia. The procedure is non-invasive, meaning no blade, scar, radiation or incision is involved. The treatment precisely destroys the diseased part of the prostate, prioritizing the preservation of quality of life. The risk of side effects, such as incontinence and erectile dysfunction, following the treatment is low.

“This is an exciting milestone for us to reach,” said Hao Nguyen, MD, PhD, a urologic oncologist and surgeon and the Richard and Leilani Grinold Endowed Professor in Urology at UC San Francisco. “Since we started offering robotic focal HIFU at UCSF, we have seen the ways this treatment option has improved the lives of those who have prostate cancer.”

Treatment using robotic focal HIFU began in May 2021. Since then, UCSF has been recognized as a leader in physician and staff training and patient education for the procedure.

“This treatment offers quality of life preservation for patients with significant cancer,” said Katsuto Shinohara, MD, a urologic cancer surgeon and UCSF professor of urology. “Compared to conventional treatment with radiation or surgery, there is less risk of complications and a shorter recovery period.”

The UCSF Prostate Cancer Center provides comprehensive, cutting-edge care to patients with prostate cancer as well as men at high risk of developing the condition. With an emphasis on early screening and detection, the center offers a range of services, from active surveillance for low-risk cancers to the latest techniques for cancers at all stages, whether localized (confined to the prostate gland) or advanced (spread to tissues beyond the pelvis). UCSF is a major research center for later-stage prostate cancer and offers the best treatments available.

About UCSF Health: UCSF Health is recognized worldwide for its innovative patient care, reflecting the latest medical knowledge, advanced technologies and pioneering research. It includes the flagship UCSF Medical Center, which is a top-ranked specialty hospital, as well as UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospitals, with campuses in San Francisco and Oakland, Langley Porter Psychiatric Hospital and Clinics, UCSF Benioff Children’s Physicians and the UCSF Faculty Practice. These hospitals serve as the academic medical center of the University of California, San Francisco, which is world-renowned for its graduate-level health sciences education and biomedical research. UCSF Health has affiliations with hospitals and health organizations throughout the Bay Area. Visit www.ucsfhealth.org. Follow UCSF Health on Facebook or on Twitter.