Focused ultrasound gets attention in cancer moonshot initiative

Focused ultrasound, a rarely used technology to treat uterine fibroids, prostate cancer and other medical problems, may soon have a larger role to play in healthcare.

Neal Kassell, M.D., a retired neurosurgeon, is seeking to expand use of the tool and recently was named by Vice President Joe Biden to be part of a panel for the government's cancer moonshot initiative, according to a report from STAT.

Kassell, who performed surgery on the vice president in the late 1980s, tells STAT that the tech "is one of the cutting-edge therapies that the VP is exploring through the moonshot."

He says it can help improve the impact of cancer immunotherapy or allow for more targeted chemotherapy.

Focused ultrasound was one of the techniques shown off at the Radiological Society of North America's annual conference in Chicago in 2013. The use of focused ultrasound under MR guidance could offer a safe, effective way of treating breast cancer, according to Italian researchers presenting at the event.

MR-guided focused ultrasound ablation is a technique that uses acoustic energy from high-intensity focused ultrasound to heat and destroy diseased tissue, FierceHealthIT previously reported.

Kassell believes in focused ultrasound so much his good friend, author John Grisham, wrote a book about the tech's potential. "To be involved in this is a sort of moral imperative," he says of the cancer moonshot.

However, the article adds that the technology does have its issues. It doesn't work on larger tumors and can cause painful burns or damage healthy tissue in patients.

To learn more:
- here's the report

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