Purpose of review
The advent of prostate-specific antigen screening has led to a seven-fold increase in the incidence of prostate cancer without a resultant decrease in mortality rate. This has led to the belief that urologists are overdetecting and overtreating clinically insignificant disease. To maintain the delicate balance between high cancer cure rate and overtreatment, which could potentially lead to unnecessary morbidities, focal therapy has emerged as the reasonable middle ground. In this article, we present the conceptual basis and the challenges of focal therapy, while emphasizing the critical role of imaging in focal treatment of prostate cancer.
Multiple phase I trials have demonstrated the feasibility, short-term efficacy, and safety of focal therapy. Fundamental to the success of these trials and the ultimate acceptance of focal therapy is the integral role of imaging in optimal patient selection. Among the different imaging modalities, only ultrasound and multiparametric MRI are intimately involved in the detection, diagnosis, staging, and treatment of prostate cancer. Each modality has its own unique advantages and shortcomings. Recent advances in enhanced ultrasound modalities, functional MRIs, and biopsy platforms have taken focal therapy one step closer to becoming the standard of care.
Although early results of phase I focal therapy trials are encouraging, long-term oncological outcomes remain to be elucidated. Incorporation of these technological advances into large prospective trials is needed to establish focal therapy as an important asset in the urologist's armamentarium against prostate cancer.