By the time Jim Hurley, 54, learned last year that he had early-stage prostate cancer, the disease had already killed his father and struck two brothers. With that family history, the plaster artisan from Springfield, N.J., wasn’t about to take chances. For two months, he pored over scientific studies, books, and websites about the cancer. He discussed his situation with doctors, his brothers, and other survivors. A surgeon recommended surgery. A radiation oncologist advocated a form of radiation therapy. But Hurley, concerned that either could leave him impotent or incontinent, settled on a novel technique that attacks cancer with sound waves. He had to drop $23,500 and fly to Toronto to get treated with high-intensity focused ultrasound, or HIFU. (Health officials in Canada and Mexico permit the procedure, but U.S. regulators haven’t made a decision on it.) So far, he’s pleased with the results.