- How is prostate cancer treated?
- Expectant management (watchful waiting) and active surveillance for prostate cancer
- Surgery for prostate cancer
- Radiation therapy for prostate cancer
- Cryosurgery for prostate cancer
- Hormone therapy for prostate cancer
- Chemotherapy (chemo) for prostate cancer
- Vaccine treatment for prostate cancer
- Preventing and treating prostate cancer spread to bone
- Clinical trials for prostate cancer
- Complementary and alternative therapies for prostate cancer
- What is the best prostate cancer treatment for me?
Cryosurgery for prostate cancer
Cryosurgery is sometimes used to treat early stage prostate cancer by freezing the cells with cold metal probes (hollow needles). It is used only for prostate cancer that has not spread, but it may not be a good option for men with large prostate glands.
The probes are placed through the skin between the anus and the scrotum. This method requires spinal or epidural anesthesia (where the lower half of your body is numbed) or general anesthesia (where you are asleep). Cold gases are then passed through the probes, which creates ice balls that destroy the prostate gland.
A catheter is also put into the bladder so that when the prostate swells (as it often does after this treatment) urine is not trapped in the bladder. The catheter is removed a few weeks later.
You may need to stay in the hospital for a day, but many patients can leave the same day.
Compared to surgery or radiation treatment, doctors know much less about how well this method works in the long run. For this reason, most doctors do not include cryosurgery among the first options they recommend for treating prostate cancer.
Possible side effects of cryosurgery
After the procedure, there will be some bruising and soreness in the area where the probes were inserted. You may have some blood in the urine for the first few days. Short-term swelling of the penis and scrotum after cryosurgery is also common.
Because it is less invasive than radical surgery, there is less loss of blood, a shorter hospital stay, shorter recovery time, and less pain. But freezing can damage nerves near the prostate and cause impotence and incontinence. Erection problems may occur more often with cryosurgery than they do after radical prostatectomy. Freezing may also damage the bladder and intestines. This can cause pain, a burning sensation, and the need to empty the bladder and bowels often. Most men recover normal bowel and bladder function over time.
Last Medical Review: 03/09/2012
Last Revised: 01/17/2013