- Last Updated: July 11, 2017
Breast cancer is the most common cancer in women. There are an estimated 232,000 new cases in women and more than 2,000 new cases in men annually, and more than 40,000 deaths occur each year.
Common treatment options for breast cancer include surgery, radiation, chemotherapy, hormone therapy, and biologically targeted pharmacologic therapies. Typical treatment regimens can involve combinations of several options. However, the precise treatment regimen depends on the location, type, hormonal status and stage of the cancer, as well as decisions by the patient and care team.
Focused Ultrasound Therapy
Focused ultrasound offers a potentially non-invasive alternative to surgical lumpectomy. Rather than creating an incision to remove the tumor, the physician uses magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) or ultrasound guidance to identify the tumor and to direct a focused beam of acoustic energy through the skin into the tumor. This beam heats and destroys the tumor without damaging nearby structures or tissues. A follow-up MRI can determine whether the entire tumor has been destroyed, and if necessary, focused ultrasound can be repeated.
As a non-invasive method of lumpectomy, focused ultrasound may offer fewer complications and shorter recovery time than conventional surgery, no scars and reduced risk for breast deformation, and more precise treatment due to real-time guidance during the procedure.
Because there is no surgical removal of tissue, there are some drawbacks to focused ultrasound treatment. Typically, the removed tissue is used to verify complete tumor removal and analysis and planning for adjuvant therapy.
There is also the potential to use focused ultrasound in premenopausal patients to provide ovarian castration if the patient’s cancer is positive to estrogen and progesterone after a mastectomy. The conventional approach to this care is radiation therapy. A study compared the two, and found that focused ultrasound was superior to radiation therapy in terms its minimal invasiveness and faster efficacy.
Regulatory Approval and Reimbursement
The Model JC Focused Tumor Treatment System, which is manufactured by Chongqing Haifu Technology, has been approved in Europe for the treatment of breast cancer.
The use of focused ultrasound to treat breast cancer is not yet a procedure universally reimbursed by medical insurance providers in the US.
While treatment is not approved in the United States, there are sites overseas that offer this treatment.
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