There are several treatment options for localized prostate cancer. These options include active surveillance, surgery, radiotherapy, and cryotherapy. Cryotherapy is one of the newer forms of treatment, so patients with prostate cancer usually have lots of questions about what this treatment is an how it works. If you are considering cryotherapy as a treatment for prostate cancer, then here is a general idea of what you can expect:
How Does Cryotherapy Work?
Cryotherapy involves cryoablation, or freezing of cells. When cryoablation is performed, it freezes and destroys the cancerous cells in the prostate. The cryoablation is done with tiny, computer guided needles called cryoprobes, which are placed into the prostate. Argon gas is then used to create an “iceball” which results in cell death within the predetermined area. During the procedure there is constant ultrasound monitoring to reduce the risk of injury to the healthy surrounding tissues. Cryotherapy is currently an outpatient procedure, and the patient is usually discharged from the recovery room with either a urethral catheter or a suprapubic tube in place for drainage after the procedure.
Who Are The Best Candidates for Cryotherapy?
The best candidates for cryotherapy are patients who have organ-confined prostate cancer, or those who have only minimal spreading of the cancer beyond the prostate. This is because cryotherapy is not cancer specific; it destroys healthy and cancerous cells alike. Candidates for cryotherapy include those who are undergoing prostate cancer treatment for the first time, as well as those patients for whom the cancer is reoccurring after radiation treatment.
What Are Some of the Pros and Cons of Cryotherapy?
There are many advantages of cryotherapy as a treatment for prostate cancer. The procedure is minimally invasive, and can be done as an outpatient procedure. Because of this, it typically costs less than half of what a traditional surgical or radiotherapy treatment would cost. The success rate is favorable, the complication rate is low, and patients recuperate quickly.
Cryotherapy can be effectively used as a treatment for high grade cancers, and the ice can be extended beyond the confines of the prostate to treat cells that are questionable. Cryotherapy can be repeated if the first attempt does not completely kill the cancer, and can be used for those patients whose cancer is resistant to radiation, hormones or chemotherapy. As you can see, there are many advantages to this emerging treatment for prostate cancer. But what about the downside? There is extensive training and experience needed by the surgeon performing the procedure, so it is not as widely available as some of the traditional methods. In addition, because cryotherapy is relatively new, the longterm outcome for patients using current technology is still being determined. For now, cryotherapy is a promising treatment, eradicating prostate cancer in many patients.
If you or someone you care about has been diagnosed with prostate cancer, your best resource for information and guidance on treating your specific cancer will come from your urologist. Though cryotherapy may be the best option, each prostate patient is unique. Your urologist can discuss with you the generalizations of all the treatment types, their pros and cons, and how each will apply to your specific situation.