Focused Ultrasound Therapy
Focused ultrasound is an early-stage, non-invasive, therapeutic technology with the potential to improve the quality of life and decrease the cost of care for patients with metastatic cancer. This novel technology focuses beams of ultrasound energy precisely and accurately on targets deep in the body without damaging surrounding normal tissue. Where the beams converge, the ultrasound produces a variety of impacts, including precise ablation (thermal destruction of tissue) which enables metastatic cancer to be treated without surgery. Focused ultrasound can also produce local hyperthermia of the targeted tissue, which can have a variety of beneficial effects including the release of chemotherapy drugs that are contained in temperature sensitive molecules. This allows delivery of a higher level of chemotherapy precisely to the targeted tissue, while limiting the effects for the rest of the body.
The primary options for treatment of metastatic disease are medication or invasive surgery.
For certain patients, focused ultrasound could provide an improved chemotherapy treatment or a non-invasive alternative to surgery that may have less risk of complications and lower cost.
- Non-invasive treatment that does not have wound healing, infection or surgical recovery issues.
- Enhanced chemotherapy impact to the target, with less impact to the rest of the body
- It can be repeated, if necessary
One clinical trial is using thermosensitive liposomal Doxorubicin that is administered intravenously, and is only released in the tumor where focused ultrasound is applied. This can improve the penetration of the doxorubicin to the cancer, while limiting the exposure to the rest of the body. This can apply to many non-cranial tumors, and conditions listed are rhabdomyosarcoma, Ewing sarcoma, soft tissue sarcomas, osteosarcomas, neuroblastoma, Wilm’s tumor, hepatic tumors and germ cell tumors in patients up to 30 years of age.
A second study is assessing focused ultrasound to ablate a wide variety of metastatic cancers in the bone or surrounding tissues. The tumors listed are rhabdomyosarcoma, Ewing sarcoma, osteosarcoma, neuroblastoma, Wilm’s tumor, hepatic tumors, germ cell tumors and desmoid tumors in patient up to 30 years of age.
A third study is assessing focused ultrasound in treating a number of malignancies in the pelvis.
Regulatory Approval and Reimbursement
Focused ultrasound treatment for these metastatic cancers are not approved by regulatory bodies or covered by medical insurance companies.
Zhu L, Partanen A, Talcott MR, Gach HM, Greco SC, Henke LE, Contreras JA, Zoberi I, Hallahan DE, Chen H, Altman MB. Feasibility and safety assessment of magnetic resonance-guided high-intensity focused ultrasound (MRgHIFU)-mediated mild hyperthermia in pelvic targets evaluated using an in vivo porcine model. Int J Hyperthermia. 2019;36(1):1147-1159. doi: 10.1080/02656736.2019.1685684.
Zhai YP, Wang Y. Effect of the combination treatment of high-intensity focused ultrasound and cryocare knife in advanced liver cancer. J BUON. 2017 Mar-Apr;22(2):495-499.
Facciorusso A, Serviddio G, Muscatiello N. Local ablative treatments for hepatocellular carcinoma: An updated review. World J Gastrointest Pharmacol Ther. 2016 Nov 6;7(4):477-489.
Gong Y, Wang Z, Dong G, Sun Y, Wang X, Rong Y, Li M, Wang D, Ran H. Low-intensity focused ultrasound mediated localized drug delivery for liver tumors in rabbits. Drug Deliv. 2016 Sep;23(7):2280-2289. Epub 2014 Nov 4.
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