HIFU For Prostate

image image

What is HIFU

High-Intensity Focused Ultrasound (HIFU), also known as focal therapy, is a cutting-edge, non-invasive treatment designed for localised prostate cancer. This innovative technique leverages the power of intense heat generated by focused ultrasound waves to precisely target and destroy cancerous tissues within the prostate gland.

This targeted approach not only maximises the treatment’s efficacy on the cancerous cells but also minimises the impact on surrounding healthy tissues. This is a strength compared to more traditional treatments that can have wider effects.

Eligibility for HIFU

Not every patient is a suitable candidate for HIFU; specific criteria must be met to ensure the effectiveness and safety of the treatment.

Cancer Stage and Grade

HIFU is most effective for patients with early-stage, localised prostate cancer. This treatment is particularly suitable for cancers that have not spread beyond the prostate gland.

Prostate Size

Patients with a prostate that is not excessively enlarged are typically considered good candidates for HIFU.

Tumour Visibility

The tumour must be visible on imaging tests such as MRI or ultrasound scans. This visibility allows for accurate targeting of the cancerous tissue during the HIFU procedure.

Overall Health Status

The general health and medical history of the patient are also taken into account. This includes considering other medical conditions that might affect the safety and efficacy of the procedure.

Preparing For HIFU

Patients are typically required to undergo an imaging test, such as an MRI or ultrasound, before the procedure to accurately locate the prostate cancer.

Additionally, patients might need to have an enema to empty the bowels and usually fast for several hours before the treatment.

All specific pre-procedure instructions must be followed, including medication adjustments and preparation for anaesthesia. These steps are designed to optimise the accuracy and effectiveness of the HIFU treatment.

HIFU Procedure

The HIFU procedure for treating prostate cancer is characterised by its precision and minimally invasive nature. Here are the steps involved:

  1. Positioning: The patient is positioned on an exam table, ensuring comfort and accessibility to the prostate area.
  2. Stabilisation: To precisely target the prostate, the area around it may be stabilised. This allows for the focus and efficacy of the ultrasound waves.
  3. Anaesthesia: Depending on the specific case, the patient may be fully conscious, lightly sedated, or under general anaesthesia. The choice of anaesthesia is based on the procedure’s requirements and the patient’s comfort.
  4. Imaging Guidance: Ultrasound or MRI imaging is used to locate the exact position of the targeted prostate tissue. This imaging ensures that the HIFU waves are accurately focused on the cancerous cells.
  5. HIFU Probe Insertion: For prostate cancer treatment, a probe (about the size of an index finger) is inserted into the rectum. This probe emits the ultrasound waves precisely to the targeted area.
  6. Ultrasound Wave Delivery: The HIFU device delivers focused ultrasound waves to the prostate. These waves generate heat, which destroys the targeted cancerous tissue.

Recovery and Long-Term Effects

Recovery from HIFU treatment is usually swift, with most patients able to return home on the same day. It’s common for patients to experience temporary urinary catheterization post-procedure to aid in urine drainage. Side effects can include pain in the prostate area, blood in the urine, and temporary erectile dysfunction.

While HIFU has fewer long-term effects compared to more invasive treatments, some patients may experience persistent issues such as erection problems or urinary incontinence. Regular follow-up care can help monitor recovery and manage any potential long-term effects.

Benefits of HIFU

The HIFU procedure for prostate cancer offers several benefits, making it an attractive option for eligible patients.

Non-Invasive Approach

HIFU is a non-surgical method, involving no incisions. This minimises the risk of infections and complications commonly associated with surgical procedures.

Reduced Side Effects

Compared to traditional prostate cancer treatments like radiation therapy or surgery, HIFU has fewer side effects, thereby enhancing the patient’s quality of life post-treatment.

Targeted Treatment

HIFU precisely targets the cancerous tissue, leaving surrounding healthy tissue largely unaffected. This precision reduces the likelihood of collateral damage to other parts of the body.

Outpatient Procedure

Typically conducted as an outpatient procedure, HIFU allows patients to return home the same day, fostering a quicker return to normal activities.


Unlike some other cancer treatments, HIFU does not involve radiation, thereby eliminating the risks associated with radiation exposure.

Personalised Treatment

HIFU can be tailored to each patient’s unique condition, allowing for a more personalised approach to prostate cancer treatment.

Risks and Complications of HIFU

While HIFU is a safer alternative to more invasive prostate cancer treatments, it is not without risks and potential complications.

  • Urinary Issues: Some patients may experience urinary problems following the procedure, including difficulty in urination or urinary retention.
  • Erectile Dysfunction: There is a risk of erectile dysfunction post-HIFU, although this is often temporary and can be managed with appropriate treatments.
  • Skin Burns: Although rare, the focused ultrasound waves can potentially cause skin burns in the treated area.
  • Swelling: Post-procedure swelling of the prostate can occur, which might temporarily block the urethra.
  • Infection Risk: As with any medical procedure, there is a risk of infection, though this risk is lower in non-invasive procedures like HIFU.

Dr Lee Fang Jann image

Dr Lee is a urologist and kidney transplant surgeon with a broad-based expertise of all urological disorders

He has subspecialty focus on men’s health and male infertility, and special interest in minimally invasive prostate enlargement therapy and kidney stone treatment. Dr Lee has received numerous awards for service excellence such as the Service With A Heart Award (2006-2008, 2011) and the Singapore Health Quality Service Award (2016).

  • Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery (Singapore)
  • Membership of The Royal College of Surgeons (Edin)
  • Master of Medicine (Surgery) (Singapore)
  • Fellowship of the Academy of Medicine (Urology)
  • Clinical fellowship at Oxford Transplant Centre in the UK

Prior to entering private practice, Dr Lee served in the public sector for 16 years at SGH, where he initiated dedicated clinics evaluating and treating patients with complex men’s health and fertility issues. He also led the Renal Transplant Program and laparoscopic donor nephrectomy service as Surgical Director.

Apart from clinical work, Dr Lee is active in academia and believes in the importance of grooming the next generation of doctor. He was Senior Clinical Lecturer at NUS’ Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine and currently, Adjunct Assistant Professor at the Duke-NUS Medical School. Dr Lee is also regularly invited to share his experiences locally and regionally through lectures, workshops and surgical demonstrations.

Our Clinic Locations

Farrer Park Medical Centre, #08-05
1 Farrer Park Station Rd, Singapore 217562

Mon – Fri: 8:30am to 5:30pm
Sat: 8:30am to 12:30pm

3 Mount Elizabeth, #11-16 Medical Centre, Singapore 228510

Mon – Fri: 8:30am to 5:30pm
Sat: 8:30am to 12:30pm

    Need Advice On Your Condition?

    Do you have an enquiry? Please fill out the form and we will be in touch with you shortly.

    Full Name*

    Email Address*

    Phone Number*


    Your Message*

    For Faster Response, Call us!

    +65 6993 3000

    Frequently Asked Questions

    What is High-Intensity Focused Ultrasound (HIFU)?

    HIFU is a non-invasive treatment option for localised prostate cancer, using focused ultrasound waves to precisely target and destroy cancerous tissues within the prostate gland.

    How is HIFU different from traditional prostate cancer treatments?

    Unlike traditional treatments like surgery or radiation therapy, HIFU is non-invasive, does not involve radiation, and typically has fewer side effects, making it a safer alternative for eligible patients.

    What can I expect during the HIFU procedure?

    The HIFU procedure involves positioning, anaesthesia, imaging guidance, probe insertion, and ultrasound wave delivery. It is usually completed in a single session and is designed to be minimally invasive.

    How long is the recovery period after HIFU?

    Patients can typically return home the same day as the procedure. Recovery time varies but is generally quicker than that of more invasive treatments.

    Will I need additional treatments after HIFU?

    The need for additional treatments depends on the individual case and the effectiveness of the HIFU procedure. Regular follow-ups should be conducted.