High intensity focused ultrasound gives new hope for cancer sufferers

25 September 2005

Oxford, England. Liver and kidney cancer sufferers in Europe can now benefit from a remarkable proven technology from China. High-intensity focused ultrasound (HIFU) can destroy tumours without surgery. The technology can now be used in Europe because the model-JC Tumour Therapy System produced by Chongqing Haifu Technology Co, China has gained the European CE mark.

Since 1997 the model-JC Tumour Therapy System (Chongqing Haifu Technology Co, China) has successfully treated over 8,000 patients with a variety of cancers at over 20 centres in the Far East. Supported by successful clinical trials performed at The Churchill Hospital in Oxford, UK — funded by UK based company, Ultrasound Therapeutics Ltd — the equipment has recently been awarded CE approval certification, the first major therapeutic device from China to have gained CE approval. The granting of this stringent European qualification could now mean new hope for cancer patients seeking effective tumour treatment in the West.

Whilst diagnostic ultrasound scans will be familiar to thousands of pregnant women, High-Intensity Focused Ultrasound (HIFU) concentrates the energy to a very small focal point. These focused waves have the ability to literally 'cook' tumours without the need for potentially hazardous open surgery.

The process requires no incision and also has the added benefit of minimal toxicity — unlike chemo or radiotherapy. However, in some cases, there is no reason why the process cannot be used in conjunction with other established cancer treatments.

The model-JC Tumour Therapy System focuses ultrasound waves inside the body and the point of focus is 'aimed' by the operator using ultrasound imaging techniques. This allows the doctors operating the machine to guide the focus directly in to the tumour without any damage to the surrounding tissue. In order to keep the patient perfectly still throughout, the procedure is carried out under general anaesthetic.

In terms of side effects, the only post-treatment discomfort observed were tiny and insignificant skin blisters and a small number of patients needed little more than mild pain relief the following day. This information only serves to corroborate the experience reported from China and the Far East.

The Churchill trials show successful targeted focal ablation in 95% of treated liver tumours and, in the most recent trials, kidney tumours have also been successfully treated. The centre is still undertaking further trials but is also able to consider off-trial referrals as appropriate. It must be noted that all referrals will be discussed in detail with local oncologists to ensure feasibility and practicality of all potential treatments.

Recent publications in respected journals also show benefits to patients with pancreatic, breast and some bone cancers.

More information: http://www.utlltd.co.uk/hifu/hifu-system.html

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