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Cryotherapy for Prostate Cancer Treatment

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Are there advantages to using cryotherapy for prostate cancer?

There are few long-term studies on cryotherapy and prostate cancer. Some experts believe, though, that cryotherapy offers several advantages over surgery and radiation. Those advantages may be particularly noticeable in early stage prostate cancer. For instance, cryotherapy is a less invasive procedure. It can be done using an epidural or spinal instead of a general anesthesia. This may benefit older men with prostate cancer. It can also benefit men who have other conditions such as diabetes, heart disease, or lung disease.

Other advantages with cryotherapy include:

  • Less blood loss
  • Shorter hospital stay (usually one or two nights)
  • Shorter recovery period
  • Much less swelling and pain than with standard surgery for prostate cancer

If needed, cryotherapy can be followed with other conventional therapies, such as radiation therapy or surgery.

One recent study followed men with prostate cancer for a period of 10 years. In that study, researchers concluded that cryotherapy might be as effective as radiation and other common treatments for prostate cancer. Cryotherapy, though, wasn't directly tested against those more established treatments.

What are the risks of cryotherapy for prostate cancer treatment?

Whether cryotherapy is effective in eliminating prostate cancer hasn't been proven. Experts say that sometimes the freezing liquid fails to kill all of the cancer cells. As a result, there is a chance prostate cancer will come back.

Also, the potential side effects of cryotherapy for prostate cancer are undesirable for some men. These side effects may include:

  • Injury to the urethra and bladder
  • Serious infections as a result of the injury
  • Obstruction or blockage of the urethra

In addition, the risks of cryotherapy are similar to other prostate cancer treatments. They include:

  • Impotence
  • Incontinence
  • Recurrence of prostate cancer

Without long-term studies, the jury is still out on who should consider cryotherapy to treat prostate cancer. Some experts believe cryotherapy may be most effective when a man has recurring prostate cancer that's limited only to the prostate gland.

WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by Jay B. Zatzkin, MD, FACP on July 31, 2013
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