Cryotherapy Therapy for Prostate Cancer
Cryotherapy for prostate cancer is an emerging therapy that involves freezing the prostate tissue, causing the cancer cells to die. As a minimally-invasive procedure, cryotherapy is sometimes used as an alternative to the surgical removal of the prostate gland (prostatectomy).
In the past, cryotherapy for prostate cancer was associated with significantly higher levels of long-term side effects than were other prostate cancer treatments. Advances in the technology of have reduced these side effects. Most men, however, still experience long-term sexual dysfunction following the procedure.
This procedure is most often used in men who have early-stage prostate cancer. But it may also be a treatment option in some men whose prostate cancer has returned following other treatments.
Why Choose Cryotherapy?
Cryotherapy for prostate cancer is an option at different times during your cancer treatment and for different reasons, including:
- As the only (primary) treatment for cancer, usually for early-stage cancer that is confined to your prostate;
- After other cancer treatment, such as radiation therapy, to stop the growth of prostate cancer that has returned (salvage therapy).
You may need an enema or bowel preparation to empty your colon before cryotherapy therapy is performed. You may also need to avoid eating and drinking for a certain period of time prior to the procedure to avoid anesthesia complications.
What to Expect During the Procedure
Cryotherapy for prostate cancer is done in the hospital. You may be given a general anesthetic, so you are unconscious during the procedure, or the surgical area may be numbed with a local or regional anesthetic.
The procedure takes about 2 – 3 hours; once the anesthetic takes effect, we will:
- Place an ultrasound probe in your rectum.
- Place a catheter inside the tube (urethra) that transports urine from your bladder out of your penis. (The catheter is filled with a warming solution to keep the urethra from freezing during the procedure.)
- Place a catheter into your bladder through your lower abdomen (supra-pubic catheter) to assist in urinary drainage after cryotherapy.
- Inserts several thin metal rods through the area between the scrotum and the anus (perineum), into the prostate.
- Watch the images generated by the ultrasound probe carefully to ensure correct placement of the rods.
- Release argon gas to circulate through the rods, cooling them and freezing nearby prostate tissue.
- Carefully control and monitor the temperature of the rods and the amount of freezing within the prostate gland.
What to Expect After the Procedure
You’ll probably be able to go home the day of your procedure, or you may spend the night in the hospital. The urinary catheter may need to remain in place for about two weeks to allow for healing. Cryotherapy usually results in very little blood loss. You may be sore and bruised where the rods were inserted and have blood in your urine for several days following the procedure. You may also have temporary bladder and bowel function problems. These problems usually resolve over time. Sexual dysfunction, including impotence, is also common in men following cryotherapy.
After cryotherapy for prostate cancer, we’ll schedule regular follow-up appointments to perform periodic imaging scans and laboratory testing to see how your cancer has responded to the treatment. It may take your body up to nine months to absorb all the dead prostate cancer cells.
If you feel that you may be a candidate for cryotherapy – or are interested in other emerging prostate cancer therapies – please contact us today to schedule a consultation!