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New tool means 1 day, not weeks of treatment for prostate cancer

A still image from a video produced by SonaCare Medical shows how its Sonablate HIFU device works.

About 1 in six men will develop prostate cancer in his lifetime, but a new surgical tool is turning weeks of treatment into a one-day procedure.

And it’s right here in Portland.

Glenn Seymour was one of the first American patients to undergo High Intensity Focused Ultrasound, or HIFU.

The robotics-based device uses focused soundwaves to heat and destroy cancer inside the prostate. That means no weeks of radiation, no surgery and no side effects, like incontinence. And the patients are out that same day.

In 2010, Seymour had to fly to Mexico to get HIFU. But now it’s FDA approved and right here in Portland.

Seven years later Seymour is not only cancer free, he has no side effects from treatment.

“The quality of life – it didn’t change anything,” Seymour tells KATU via Skype from his home in North Carolina. “It was like a blip on the screen, so to speak.”

Because of HIFU, day centers like Northwest Ambulatory Surgery Center can treat prostate cancer.

“Every year we’re performing more complex procedures because of technology just like this,” says the center’s administrator Kecia Norling.

Another reason that men need more treatment options is because doctors are seeing younger men develop the disease, and often in those cases, it’s more aggressive.

Dr. Stanley Myers, a surgeon at Northwest Urology, helped bring HIFU to Portland. And he’s the only surgeon in the Northwest trained to use it. But he hopes to change that.

“I really think it’s opened up a whole new paradigm in prostate cancer treatment,” he says.

HIFU isn’t for every patient. It won’t work if the cancer has spread beyond the prostate or if the prostate is too large.

Right now the HIFU treatment is not covered by insurance. It costs $25,000. But the company says it expects insurance to cover it by next year.

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