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For men with prostate cancer, plenty of treatments are available. However, staging is the most important factor to consider when deciding on a treatment option. The size of your tumor, location and whether it has spread to other parts of your body are other factors. Cryotherapy is a new treatment for early stage prostate cancer. Here's what you need to know if you're considering this treatment option.
How It's Done
Cryotherapy involves utilizing cold temperatures to freeze cancer cells and cut off blood supply to destroy cancer cells. While it's often referred to as "cryosurgery," it's not an actual surgical procedure. Doctors insert tiny needles called "cryoprobes" into the prostate using ultrasound as guidance. A gas called argon is then delivered that freezes and kills the cells in that area.
When It's Used
Your doctor may recommend cryotherapy if you are in the early stages and the cancer has returned following radiation. Cryotherapy may also be an option if you are not well enough to undergo radiation in the first place, as cryotherapy is less invasive. Doctors sometimes recommend cryotherapy for cancer cells that are not sensitive to radiation.
What to Expect
Cryotherapy is typically performed under general or spinal anesthesia. Under general anesthesia you will remain asleep during the procedure. Under spinal anesthesia, the lower part of your body is numbed. After the procedure is complete, a catheter is left in place for several weeks, which allows you to empty your bladder as you heal and recover. Many patients are able to go home the same day, but you may need to stay in the hospital overnight.
You may notice some bleeding or blood in your urine. This side effect typically lasts for a day or two following the procedure. You can also expect to experience some swelling and soreness in the general area where the needles were inserted. Some men find that they need to empty their bowels and bladder more often after having cryotherapy. For most men, urinary and bowel frequency returns to normal over time.
Cryotherapy increases the risk of urinary incontinence, or problems controlling urine, especially if you have already had radiation. Freezing also increases the risk of damaging nerves, leading to erectile dysfunction. Though rare, cryotherapy may cause an abnormal connection between the bladder and the rectum, a problem called a fistula. This occurs about 1 percent of the time and often requires surgery to correct.
For more information on cryotherapy, talk to the doctors at Unity Urology PC.