Focal therapies for cancer have been around for more than two decades and have been accepted treatment options for breast and renal cancers. Gaining acceptance for prostate cancer, however, has been a long-winding road.
With the growing acceptance of the value of multi-parametric MRI (mpMRI) the detection, diagnosis and treatment of prostate cancer is undergoing a paradigm shift away from biomarkers and standard 12-core biopsies to imaging-based strategies with targeted biopsies.
Since the US Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) gave prostate cancer screening a “D” grade in 2012, researchers have been looking for better ways to detect, diagnose and treat prostate cancer. Blood tests such as the PSA and imaging and biopsy tests, however, have lacked specificity, identifying cancer only about half the time, while missing clinically significant cancer.
Less than two weeks ago, I witnessed my first HIFU prostate ablation case. Having only learned about this technology for nearly a month leading up to the event, I had few assumptions of what the procedure would consist of. I understood that the focused ultrasound device would “ablate” or destroy targeted tissue within the prostate gland. I could also quote that “the procedure was considered minimally-invasive and only required an incision if a catheter were to be placed within the patient.” What I did not know, however, was the effect HIFU can have on a patient’s life, and my own.
Good question! If you Google the term “minimally invasive” in relation to any medical treatment, it is likely that you will get a wide range of procedures that claim to fall under this category.
What is a C-code?
According to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) Healthcare Common Procedure Coding System (HCPCS) or “C-codes” are unique temporary pricing codes established for the Prospective Payment System and are only valid for Medicare on claims for hospital outpatient department services and procedures.