- Last Updated: October 31, 2018
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 lung cancer. This novel technology focuses beams of ultrasonic energy precisely and accurately on targets in the body without damaging surrounding normal tissue. Where the beams converge, the ultrasound produces a variety of therapeutic effects that could potentially enable lung cancer to be treated without incisions or radiation.
Some challenges in using focused ultrasound to treat lung cancer include the movement of the lungs with respiration, the air spaces in the lungs which disrupt the energy deposition and the limitations based on rib coverage of the target. Efforts are underway to address all of these concerns, and focused ultrasound has been used to treat lung cancer that was located in an accessible portion of the peripheral lung.
A recent, isolated case was reported in a scientific meeting where a metastatic cancer located in the anterior portion of the lung was treated with focused ultrasound.
Potential advantages as compared to current treatments:
- Focused ultrasound is non-invasive and therefore has reduced risk for infection and blood clots, and potential for shorter recovery times.
- Precise targeting minimizes damage to non-targeted healthy tissue.
- No ionizing radiation, enabling repeat treatment if necessary.
- Treatment can be a complement to drug therapy, enabling enhanced delivery of chemotherapy or immunotherapy to tumors, with lower doses of drugs and minimal toxicity.
- May potentially induce an anti-tumor immune response.
At the present time, there are no clinical trials recruiting patients for focused ultrasound treatment of lung tumors.
Preclinical Laboratory StudiesEarly-stage preclinical studies suggest that focused ultrasound may play a beneficial role in the treatment of lung cancer. Recent feasibility studies have shown that focused ultrasound can be an effective, minimally invasive way to destroy tumors in the lung, with the potential to target only the tumor with minimal risk of damage to the surrounding tissues. Focused ultrasound would provide a more precise alternative to radiofrequency ablation and offers potential side effects that are significantly more tolerable than those of chemotherapy and radiation therapy. More studies are needed to further establish the safety and efficacy of this treatment modality before research can progress to the clinical stages.
Regulatory Approval and Reimbursement
Focused ultrasound treatment for lung tumor is not yet approved by regulatory bodies or covered by medical insurance companies.
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