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HIFU Therapy for Cancer of the Pancreas

Chinese researchers have utilized an innovative modality for the treatment of advanced pancreatic cancer  (ductal adenocarcinoma of the pancreas): High-Intensity Focused Ultrasound (“HIFU”). This mode of therapy involves a manner of directing acoustic energy in a very directed fashion at the tumor itself.  HIFU is considered to be essentially a noninvasive procedure (or at least only minimally invasive).

In the December 2012 issue of the journal Hepatobiliary & Pancreatic Diseases International, Ye and colleagues have recently reported out a study of twenty-five patients with metastatic pancreatic cancer (adenocarcinoma) that were treated with one or more sessions of HIFU.  They found that increased activity performance levels, and decreased pain levels – in 23 of the patients.  Also, overall CA19-9 marker levels were dramatically improved at one month post-procedure; and in five the CA19-9 levels became essentially undetectable.

Further and importantly, the median survival duration of the patients was ten months, with a rate of survival of 42% at one year (post-diagnosis). These results are somewhat remarkable for advanced pancreatic cancer and suggest the need for further confirmation and evaluation of this interesting technology.


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Dale O’Brien, MD