Prostate cancer has been treated with cryotherapy since the early 1990s. Cryotherapy is used to eradicate prostate cancer by freezing the prostate gland. After receiving anesthesia, the doctor inserts needles into the prostate gland through the perineum, the area between the scrotum and anus. The needles produce very cold temperatures. Freezing destroys the entire prostate, including any cancerous tissue within it.
Cryotherapy Selection Criteria
Cryotherapy is an option for prostate cancer patients who want to avoid major surgery or the risks of “watchful waiting.” Cryotherapy can treat prostate cancer patients in the intermediate and high risk groups (stage T2c or above) as well as those who have failed previous radiation treatment
Effectiveness of cryotherapy
Recent publications showing 10-year data demonstrates safety and durable efficacy of cryotherapy for treating prostate cancer. Morbidity following the procedure is mild in comparison with other treatments, with the exception of sexual function impairment. Cryotherapy for prostate cancer can be repeated, and it can also be used as a secondary treatment when other primary treatments fail.
Risks of cryotherapy
The main risk associated with prostate cryotherapy is impotence. This can occur since in order to ensure the destruction of all cancer cells, the goal is to freeze tissue beyond the prostate. In doing so, the nerve bundles associated with erection that lie close to the prostate may be affected
Cryotherapy recovery time
Cryotherapy can be performed under regional or general anesthesia on an outpatient basis, but depending on the patient’s circumstances an overnight stay may be required. In most cases, the cryotherapy procedure takes less than two hours. There is minimal pain and discomfort. Patients generally are mobile the same day and can fully return to a normal routine within a few days.
Side effects of cryotherapy
In some patients, incontinence, urethral sloughing and scarring, or urethro-rectal fistula may be a side effect following cryotherapy. In most cases the symptoms are resolved in a few weeks. Other possible side effects may include:
Moderate pelvic pain
Moderate pelvic pain
Mild urinary urgency
These side-effects usually go away within a few weeks. Most men recover their normal bowel and bladder function.
Cryoablation therapy offers:
a minimally invasive procedure
favorable success rate and complication rates
a short recuperation period
procedure can be repeated if the first cryoablation has failed
radiation therapy or radical prostatectomy is still an option if the procedure fails
less than half the cost of the traditional treatment