I had some difficulty believing that John Grisham would give away a book for free. But he really is, and he’s doing it for an alternative cancer therapy. Raising attention and money for focused ultrasound is his goal.
Since many of you simply came here for the book, here’s the link to the focused ultrasound foundation where you can get it. HERE
For the rest of us, what is the evidence for focused ultrasound as a cancer treatment? It depends. If the basic idea is to heat the tumor, then focused, prolonged ultrasound can definitely do that. But it does beg the question of why you’d use ultrasound to effectively “burn” a tumor when you might use radiation more effectively.
If the goal is to lower pain and prolong survival in otherwise hopeless metastatic cancer, then a small study of pancreatic cancer patients supports this use.
But should focused ultrasound be used widely by the cancer population? The early data on prostate cancer is promising, but the whole paradigm around prostate cancer has changed recently. For breast cancer, there is difficulty determining clear margins and the dead cells are left in the breast after the treatment. In liver metastasis, focused ultrasound can be used to prolong survival. The same can be said for metastatic and difficult-to-remove tumors throughout the body. So focused ultrasound should be widely used in the palliative later stages of cancer as an alternative to radiation.(All studies here)
I’m not a big fan of “nano-bubbles” to enhance the effectiveness of focused ultrasound. Injecting a patient with something that you then want to vibrate seems like a poorly thought out scheme. But maybe the bubbles will increase the effect?
Far from promoting an “alternative cancer therapy” John Grisham is lighting a fire under oncologists to add a useful tool to their palliative quiver.