Perhaps you’ve heard of cryotherapy, which is a freezing technique used to kill prostate cancer cells. Although this treatment is relatively new, thus far it’s had positive results. Cryotherapy is usually only done if you qualify for the procedure, and it does have some side effects you should be aware of. Let’s learn some more about cryotherapy!
An Outpatient Procedure
Cryotherapy is an outpatient procedure that can generally be performed in a couple of hours. One of the benefits of cryotherapy is that it’s minimally invasive. This means your surgeon is able to use needles, a camera, and other technology in order to “see” your prostate and accurately control the freezing. A camera is inserted into the rectum while the patient is under anesthesia. The prostate can be seen and is measured and monitored with ultrasound. Needles are inserted which will administer the freezing to the prostate to kill the cancer cells.
During this procedure, your urethra is protected with a warming catheter so that it doesn’t freeze along with the prostate. Your surgeon will regulate the temperature of the surrounding areas to ensure they don’t freeze as well. You’ll have a catheter for up to two weeks after the treatment.
Who Is a Candidate?
In general, cryotherapy is not performed as a first option, but rather with those whose prostate cancer has not gone away or hasn’t responded to other treatments. Cryotherapy may also be available to you if you’ve been diagnosed with prostate cancer early. You can discuss the option of cryotherapy with your doctor.
Cryotherapy is also generally not performed on patients whose prostate cancer has spread outside the prostate. Cryotherapy works best on patients whose cancer is confined to the prostate, or alternatively, has only minimally spread outside the area. You and your doctor can discuss if cryotherapy is the best option based on your specific diagnosis.
The side effects of cryotherapy may be more severe if you’ve already had treatment for prostate cancer. However, if this is your first treatment, the side effects could be minor. It’s important to remember that everyone is different and will respond to the treatment differently.
You may experience any of the following side effects:
- Scrotum or penile swelling
- Blood in urine
- Frequent urination or defecation
- Erectile dysfunction
- Urinary incontinence
Although many of these symptoms are temporary, some of them (such as erectile dysfunction) may take time to go away. Discuss the risks and advantages of doing cryotherapy for your prostate cancer with your doctor. Other side effects could include damage to the bladder or urethra as well as an infection resulting from the treatment. Cryotherapy won’t be for every patient.
While cryotherapy looks to have a bright future in treating prostate cancer, remember that this option isn’t for everyone. The good news is that it’s a minimally invasive procedure that tends to be successful, although you may experience side effects after the surgery. Your surgeon will be able to minimize the damage done to healthy cells with this procedure, which is important.
Discuss the treatment of cryotherapy with your doctor to determine if you’re a candidate!