Focused Ultrasound Therapy
Focused ultrasound is a rapidly evolving, noninvasive, therapeutic technology with the potential to improve the quality of life and decrease the cost of care for patients with tumors of the head and neck. This novel technology focuses beams of ultrasound energy precisely and accurately on targets deep in the body without damaging surrounding normal tissue.
How it Works
Where the beams converge, focused ultrasound produces several therapeutic effects that are being evaluated.
One mechanism is precise ablation (thermal destruction of tissue), enabling tumors to be treated without surgery. This destruction can be done to completely destroy the target or to partially treat it. Partial treatment is believed to stimulate the patient’s immune response, which may have a broader impact.
A second mechanism is to pre-treat the tumor with pulsed focused ultrasound which may enable improved therapeutic absorption.
Another mechanism is the use of focused ultrasound to produce local hyperthermia, which may improve the effectiveness of radiation treatment and chemotherapy absorption.
The primary option for treatment of tumors of the head and neck is invasive surgery, although radiation, chemotherapy or other pharmaceuticals may also be used.
For certain patients, focused ultrasound could provide a noninvasive alternative to surgery with less risk of complications – such as surgical wound healing or infection – at a lower cost. It can reach the desired target without damaging surrounding tissue and is repeatable, if necessary. Focused ultrasound also enables an enhanced chemotherapy dose for the target, with less impact to the rest of the patient.
A clinical trial for patients who have cancer with metastases to the lymph nodes in the head and neck is underway at the Sunnybrook Health Sciences Center in Toronto, Canada. This study is only open to Canadian residents.
A second clinical trial for patients who have cancer of the head or neck is underway at Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre in Toronto, Canada. This study is only open to Canadian residents.
A clinical trial is recruiting patients with solid tumors with metastatic lesions, including head and neck squamous cell cancer, at the University of Virginia.
A clinical trial is recruiting patients with refractory pain from head and neck cancer at the University of Virginia.
For a full list of head and neck tumor clinical trials, please see here.
See here for a list of treatment sites
See here for a list of clinical trials sites
See here for a list of laboratory research sites
Regulatory Approval and Reimbursement
Focused ultrasound treatment for head and neck tumors is not yet approved by regulatory bodies or covered by medical insurance companies.
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Wu CY, Chan PC, Chou LS, Chang CW, Yang FY, Liu RS, Chiou SH, Chen YW, Yen SH, Wang HE. Pulsed-focused ultrasound enhances boron drug accumulation in a human head and neckcancer xenograft-bearing mouse model. Mol Imaging Biol. 2014 Feb;16(1):95-101. doi: 10.1007/s11307-013-0675-2.
Click here for additional references from PubMed.