Robert De Niro, Warren Buffett, and Ben Stiller all had prostate cancer that was detected at an early enough stage to allow for recovery. Their treatments included surgery and radiation — which can sometimes cause undesirable side effects, including urinary and sexual problems.
But these days for men with small tumors confined to the prostate, there is a new form of treatment: high-intensity focused ultrasound (HIFU) that eliminates the need for radiation or surgery, and reduces risks.
Results from a stage 2b clinical trial published in the journal Lancet Oncology move the new HIFU approach much closer to becoming a widespread treatment option. The MRI-guided, focused ultrasound is a two-hour outpatient procedure with no incisions.
An MRI takes an image of the patient's prostate. Then focused ultrasound waves, guided by the MRI, are aimed at the tumor from different directions. They precisely intersect at the tumor, killing the cancer cells. Patients can return to normal activities right away.
Catching prostate cancer early helps avoid complications. However, there's some question about the value of a prostate-specific antigen (PSA) test to screen for prostate cancer; the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force advises it only for men ages 55 to 69.
But the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) says increased PSA screening can lower younger African Americans' risk for advanced prostate cancer, and any man's decision — based on understanding the risks and benefits — should reflect personal preferences and values.
In other words, get a PSA test if you want. To help you decide, use the ASCO’s online "Decision Aid Tool — Prostate Cancer Screening With PSA Testing" tool.