Each year, a few hundred thousand new cases of prostate cancer are diagnosed. This cancer of the male reproductive system is the second most common male cancer in our country. It is estimated to cause more than 30,000 deaths this year. As much as we need to be aware of the risks and potential seriousness of prostate cancer, statistics also indicate that most men who do receive this diagnosis will respond well to treatment. The earlier that prostate cancer is diagnosed and properly treated, the less risk of mortality there is. Cryotherapy is a good treatment option to consider when cancer has been caught in an early stage.
Cryotherapy may also be referred to as cryoablation or cryosurgery. This treatment is not only used for prostate cancer but also other types of cancer and various medical conditions. The term cryotherapy describes freezing to alter or destroy certain cells. In our area of specialty, it is cancerous cells in the prostate that are frozen. The procedure is performed under anesthesia to ensure comfort. Cancer cells are targeted with very cold gasses that form spheres of ice in the prostate gland. The insertion of tiny needles and formation of the ice spheres are monitored with ultrasound. Additionally, warm salt water is circulated through the urethra using a catheter to prevent damage to this structure.
One of the reasons patients may prefer cryotherapy for prostate cancer is that this technique is less invasive than a radical prostatectomy. There is less blood loss during the minimally-invasive procedure than there is during traditional, open prostatectomy surgery. The conservative nature of treatment also incurs less post-operative discomfort and recovery time. This technique is particularly well-suited to cases of early-stage cancer that has localized in the prostate gland. In some cases, cryotherapy may be indicated as a secondary treatment to stop recurrent prostate cancer.
Treatment for prostate cancer is developed with specific intent. Our primary objective is to remove all cancer and reduce the risk of recurrence. Secondarily, we seek to do so with as few side effects as possible. According to studies, men who undergo cryotherapy may have a lower risk of urinary incontinence than those who undergo radical prostatectomy.