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HIFU (High Intensity Focused Ultrasound)

harvs
Posts: 54
Joined: Jun 2003

Anyone heard of High Intensity Focused Ultrasound? Uses sound waves to destroy cancer tissue without prostrate removal.

lewvino's picture
lewvino
Posts: 1006
Joined: May 2009

Yes, It is not currently approved as a treatment in the USA. You would have to go offshore for treatment to either Mexico or the Bahamas. Perhaps Canada. if you are over 65 I believe you can get into clinical trials in the USA for it but other then that its out. Most insurance companies will not cover the cost since it is not 'approved'.

There are some Doctor's in the US that will offer the treatment but as mentioned you have to travel to Mexico or Bahama's for a few days of treatment.

Larry

gkoper's picture
gkoper
Posts: 174
Joined: Apr 2009

What I have heard about hifu (not approved by the FDA) is that it essentially "cooks" the cancer cells. Mexico is where most guys go.

hopeful and opt...
Posts: 1317
Joined: Apr 2009

It costs appr. 25K-30K.

Ira

lewvino's picture
lewvino
Posts: 1006
Joined: May 2009

I talked to a Dr. out of South Carolina that goes to the Bahama's one or two weekends a month taking his staff with him for nursing, anesthesia, etc. He quoted me around 32K - 35K for the treatment. I stuck with the DaVince surgery.
Doing really well 20 days post surgery.

Larry

channelsurferdude
Posts: 12
Joined: Jul 2009

The Dr. in South Carolina also goes to Puerto Vallarta, Mexico two weekends a month taking his staff there. The cost is $25,000. He is one of the most experienced...

HIFUgal
Posts: 58
Joined: Sep 2009

Hi,
My husband had HIFU back in December '08 in Mexico. It's a 2 hour procedure under general anesthesia, then you wait 2 more hours while you get your wits about you waiting for the anesthesia to wear off, then you go home and sit around remarking how you feel like nothing happened. Life is back to normal, oh, you can't go mountain climbing for a month as things have to settle down, you don't want to shake them up. But, it was easy, ultrasound!

You get a supra pubic catheter, it's put there to "clean you out" prior to treatment, and then it needs to stay in place for 2 weeks so that the ash can wash out in your urine. My husband surely didn't like the catheter at the time, but today he feels he is the luckiest guy alive to have heard about HIFU.

It was $25,000. and yes our doc brought his entire medical team, there were 5 people there wearing international HIFU uniforms, he is from S. Carolina, he teaches other doctors the technique of HIFU. Best money we ever spent. PSA 0.4

HIFUgal
Posts: 58
Joined: Sep 2009

Oh, BTW, Blue Cross and Blue Shield does pay.

wschupp
Posts: 1
Joined: Jul 2010

I had my procedure in Dec 2009. I have both Blue Cross Blue Shield and TriCare. Going in I was told that both of these insurance plans have covered HIFU. To date I have not been successful in receiving reimbursement from either. Don't get me wrong I am extremely please with the results of the procedure,but getting a little of the out of pocket expense reimbursed would be awesome. Any advice would be most appreciated

Kongo's picture
Kongo
Posts: 1167
Joined: Mar 2010

wschupp,

As HIFU is not an approved procedure in the US, you are likely to have some real problems getting BCBS to pick up the tab unless it was pre-approved. Since the FDA has not approved it, neither Medicare or Tricare will approve it either after the fact. I have heard that Tricare may approve HIFU if it is submitted for pre-approval. If HIFU was done as part of a clinical trial, there are some states that require insurance companies to pay.

If you qualify for Tricare, then you may know that recent court rulings require the VA to assume that PCa in veterans who served on the ground in Vietnam or aboard certain ships that called on Vietnamese ports was caused by Agent Orange and may be eligible for increased disability benefits but I believe that their treatment must be pre-approved. If you're a Vietnam Vet you may want to check that out.

I think all you're going to be able to do is claim it on your taxes and get back a portion based on your income and tax rate.

142
Posts: 169
Joined: Dec 2009

Did the surgeon and hospital pre-certify with the insurance company (as they should have)? If so, you have a chance at appeal if they can provide copies of the paperwork, even if the rules were mis-interpreted or changed along the way.

My ins. said in polite words "no way" for non-FDA approved procedures of any sort whatsoever, period, which ruled HIFU out of consideration altogether for me - no magic pot of gold in my house.

A big warning for anyone depending on insurance, and starting down any major treatment path is to pre-certify EVERYTHING regardless of what anyone tells you, keep the paperwork, and stay in network at all costs. It took a lot of work in checking each doctor, lab, and test involved, but I had no choice.

JohnDa
Posts: 3
Joined: Sep 2009

Hi, Thank you for your comment. I've read that this treatment is available in 33 countries but not here yet. What does your husband have to do for follow up in way of treatment, checkups, etc? How can I get in touch with this doctor who does the HIFU? Is your husband having any side effects? Has it affected his sex life, important to all men? Your responses will be most appreciated. John

HIFUgal
Posts: 58
Joined: Sep 2009

Hi JohnDa,
Sorry, it took me a while to find this post!

There was no follow up, just a PSA test in 3,6,9 & 12 months. Dr. Scionti keeps in touch through a survey he sends out every 3 months. Of course if I have any questions I know I can still call anytime, he is No. 1. The doctor that you use is very important, like in anything experience is very important, it's a delicate procedure.

PSA is now 0.3 Perfect!

Sex is better than ever...I love the fact there is no mess! He thinks the fact that huge gland is shrunk lets more flow go...

We are so happy we found HIFU....NYhifucenter.com

Oh, I heard Aetna pays too, on appeal.

Ralphie62
Posts: 47
Joined: Feb 2010

My husband is young and healthy, and I am interested in HIFU.....how did BCBS pay....did you have to pay upfront...file appeals etc??? i love my husband and want the best treatment for him, but money is an issue..........ralph's wife

luckyman2's picture
luckyman2
Posts: 54
Joined: Sep 2009

HIFU has been available at the HIFU Maple Leaf clinic in Toronto, Ontario, Canada since (I believe) 2002.

You can find information on their website: www.hifu.ca

The website has an FAQ section answering most, if not all, of the questions you might have about the clinic, procedure, recovery and insurance. It also has a section specifically for US citizens.

I wish that I would have been able to choose HIFU when I was diagnosed with PC, but "the jury was still out" at the time regarding the short and long term effectives. In addition my cancer was located in the lobes that would have made it too difficult for nerve sparing using HIFU. (That's covered in their website.) So, I opted for laparoscopy surgery... with good results.

HIFUgal
Posts: 58
Joined: Sep 2009

Hi ralphie's wife,

You can not be positive any insurance will pay. You must pay for HIFU before you go to Mexico, Canada, etc. I have heard BCBS will pay, but then I also understand that each state may be different...I don't know for sure, I don't know anyone personally who has had insurance pay for HIFU, these are just posts on the internet, and articles in the newspaper, hard to verify.

Money is hard to spend for everyone, especially when we buy insurance and find out it's worthless, you just have to decide. We work to make a better life.

Best of luck...

Ralphie62
Posts: 47
Joined: Feb 2010

HIFU gal .....you know more than anyone about HIFU....i am researching for my husband...we are considering working on funds for your Doc/ out of the country treatment. I did, however contact the office for US trials today and they seemed very positive...we could choose Duke or chapel hill....start fairly soon..........do you know anything about the doctors running the trials??? we would be offered an opportunity to interview the doc performing the treatments......i'd appreciate any input...you have been so very helpful......glad your husband is doing so well :) Ralphies wife

HIFUgal
Posts: 58
Joined: Sep 2009

Hi Ralphie's wife,

I wish I knew it all, or that doctors would tell us what is true. First, there are two machines, the Ablatherm and the Sonablate.

Those two trials you mentioned are Ablatherm trials, I've not been in favor of Ablatherm because Dr. Scionti told me that he prefers the Sonablate, however he works with both. He prefers the sonablate because he can control the machine, still the sonablate has a robotic feature in that it can tell the operator it sees cancer -- to be sure that the operator gets it. It's a stationey wand that both machines use, but the difference is the Sonablate is controlled manually by a doctor moving the beam of sound inside the wand, while the Ablatherm is totally robotic, if any of the gland falls outside the scope of the machine it will not get that.

I wonder what size Ralphie's gland is, if it is over 25cc then he won't qualify. I've found men who were lead on by the lure of the clinical trial, and then told it wouldn't work on them - as their gland was too big, and so they didn't persue it outside the clinical trials because they believe HIFU won't work for them.

But, if Ralphie's gland is over the size limit he could have HIFU in Canada or elsewhere with the Ablatherm, however, he would need to have a gland reducing procedure done first, that would be TURP (ick!) or green light lazer (great, but only available in Florida), or hormones (oh no!).

The trials won't allow any gland reducing procedure.

However, the Sonablate will work on any gland up to 60cc. Another reason Scionti prefers it.

Another thing, the trials scare me, because the doctors in them haven't that much experience, HIFU is a art, it takes skill and patience. Although the Ablatherm is robotic....so maybe they will be okay...ask how many men they have treated, and get their phone numbers and call them.

I'd go to Puerto Vallarta and have Dr. Carlos Garcia treat him, he only charges $12,000. because he and his team live there. He's a great man. He uses the Sonablate.

My husband doesn't believe he ever had cancer, HIFU is amazing, it's so sad they keep it from us.

Ralphie62
Posts: 47
Joined: Feb 2010

HIFU gal, i am so excited this morning.... I actually continued to research trials last evening and spoke with Dawn, who is heading up recruitment for the Sonablate trials in the US...recruitment is on hold until March, but she has my number and was very positive re our involvement. She knows Dr Scionti, and says he and his partner are the chief consultants over their areas of the study with the sonoblate...she said I could speak with him directly re the sonoblate trials, and that he was overseeing the training of the physicians performing treatment in the study....that he is very vested in positive results in the study. I think this would be a good opportunity for us, if we qualify. I am also very interested in Dr Garcia, and we are working on funding for this.......we will have to go that route if we require procedures because of size issues. you are such a great informed resource for all of us, and a great friend!! Thank you so much for all of your help...........have a great day!!! Ralphie's wife

HIFUgal
Posts: 58
Joined: Sep 2009

I'm so glad to hear, you are in the best hands! It's not just that Dr. Scionti is vested, he cares deeply, he stays in touch with all of us.

Do you know your husband's gland size? PSA? Gleason?

Yes, plan for the worse, hope for the best....save that money ~ it's so worth it.

Yes, have a great day!!!

Ralphie62
Posts: 47
Joined: Feb 2010

He is a gleason 6 with no palpable masses or noted on ultrasound....i'm not sure about volume, but we think he said 30 during the biopsy: we are going in for our big Prostate cancer consultation on Thurs, and i'm getting a copy of all the records. We wanted to be as prepared as posssible, as many Physicians have a strong preference to treatment options. Today is only a week since the path report came back........Ralphie's wife

HIFUgal
Posts: 58
Joined: Sep 2009

He is qualified for the Sonablate trials! (but not Ablatherm) and he is great shape for a full recovery!

Yes, be sure and get copies of everything as the HIFU doctors will need to look at them.

Very happy for you, he's going to be a-okay!

HIFUgal
Posts: 58
Joined: Sep 2009

According to this article in Swiss News they have been using HIFU for prostate cancer for many years and now they are using it for brain tumors... http://www.swissinfo.ch/eng/index/Non-invasive_brain_surgery_proves_successful.html?cid=655182

No, I don't get paid for spreading the word, I'm just trying to help men find there is another cure for prostate cancer, one that doesn't hurt, yes, there are nice people in the world.

If you know about HIFU then you learned from a friend or from watching Mike and Juliet Morning Show, FOX News, The Doctors, Ted Koppell, EuroNews, Sky News, and more....and here's a list of some magazine articles... http://www.hifucarecenter.com/NewsEvents/tabid/69/Default.aspx

A doctor in Florida wrote on his facebook page..." HIFU is not just for early stage disease. Just like all the definitive treatments for presumed "clinically localized disease", the sooner we treat it, the better the chance that we kill all the cancer. The best case senario is finding just a little prostate cancer in one or two (of 12) biopsies. That said, I've treated patients with high grade disease in half the biopsies, too...with great results!"

mrshisname's picture
mrshisname
Posts: 186
Joined: Feb 2010

Hi Ralphie's wife. We just received my husband's diagnosis on Friday February 20, 2010. You are just a few weeks ahead of us. I went to Dr. Scionti's site and called, but had to leave a message but it wasn't with Dawn.
I've been reading good and bad about HIFU on the internet, this is so darned confusing. The one thing about your post that did bother me (sorry) is the fact that the physicians who are doing the actual procedures are in TRAINING. Is Dr. Scionti actually there directly supervising??
We are also considering DaVinci but have a friend whose husband had it and he is impotent. Our urologist does DaVinci and is quite experienced. He also is doing HIFU in Mexico but $25,000 - $30,000 is quite a lot of money. Just don't know what to think...I never realized what a puzzling decision this would be. I am a registered nurse and this is driving me crazy, already! Let me know your thoughts and where you are in the process..best wishes.

lewvino's picture
lewvino
Posts: 1006
Joined: May 2009

mrshisname,
I posted over under your other thread...again if you want to chat let us know. My wife is an RN also.

Larry at lewvino@yahoo.com

Ralphie62
Posts: 47
Joined: Feb 2010

So, we really can't afford to go to Mexico...at least not soon. I did not contact Dr Scionti's office, but we have been exploring the US trials on HIFU treatment. The doctors heading up the project are real physicians; my understanding is that Dr. Scionti is overseeing this arm of the trails and has trained these physicians on treatment....the trials are already underway...people have already been treated.....so i am trying to get in touch with other participants. If we are accepted, we have the option of interviewing the physician, and Dawn said we could talk directly with Dr. sconti.....we are not in yet...won't find out until March. The ablatherm trials are accepting people now, but we don't meet the criteria because of prostate size. Our thought is that the people conducting theese trials has a huge stake in their success and statistics, so, we think it would probably be a positive experience. we are also looking into proton therapy....very minimal side effects, good long term cure, and most insurance covers it.....it is a lengthy treatment, though. We considered Davinci, and have looked into doctors, but it's surgery,the recovery is long...a year of incontinence or impotence is making us take a long hard look at everything. I am a nurse as well, not oncology, though.............Ralphie's wife:)

chitown
Posts: 90
Joined: Mar 2010

One of my urolgist friends who is based in the US but does HIFU overseas kept reminding me that at if PCa came back after HIFU there was always option for surgery as the gland is still in a position to be taken out. Upon probing did not get a satisfactory answer. At 48 years of age that was not the option for me. Pay now or pay (maybe) later. Also, my sister was a physician in UK for many years before moving here and she called many of her urolgist colleagues who recommended surgery for my age and health. Again the logic was possibility of recurrence 10.20.30 years from now

my 2 cents

buzzz
Posts: 26
Joined: Aug 2010

hello all
I also got the ultrasound treatment called high-foo, HIFU, some three years ago. I don't fear recurrance, although it is a factor no matter what course of action we take. The procedure was freightening for my family as I couldn't find any info on it back then, so I am glad to see it being discussed now. I chose HIFU because I was told by a doctor friend that he had heard of it in France quiet a bit, and the results were promicing. He had heard of some redos but the treatment itself didn't have any pain. He was right, no pain. I was in and out in a matter of 5 hours, 3 being time to awaken from the anesthesia they gave me. I had it done in Mexico.

My psa was .4 in the beginning and slowly went up to .8 and has sat there for 7 months now. I feel quite blessed that I was informed about HIFU.

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