How do HIFU and Cryotherapy compare for treating prostate cancer?

We know that there are lots of different treatments for prostate cancer and according to the experts, most of them are pretty effective in eliminating early stage localized prostate cancer. It can be very confusing to compare all the different prostate cancer treatments and decide which one is right for you, but a lot of times it comes down to how to minimize side effects or complications that come along with treatments.

Aside from traditional treatments such as surgery and radiation, another option some men choose is called cryotherapy.   As men and their loved ones explore non-invasive options for treatment,

they may come across cryotherapy and think that it is similar in some ways to HIFU. This article breaks down how the two treatments compare.

HIFU vs. Cryo for prostate cancer

What is cryotherapy?

According to a definition by the American Cancer Society,   Cryotherapy (also called cryosurgery or cryoablation) is the use of very cold temperatures to freeze and kill prostate cancer cells. Despite it sometimes being called cryosurgery, it is not actually a type of surgery.

Cryotherapy is sometimes recommended as a prostate cancer treatment option to treat early-stage prostate cancer. Typically this is not a good option if the prostate is very large.

What do HIFU and Cryotherapy have in common?

As treatments for prostate cancer, here are a few things that HIFU and Cryotherapy have in common:

  • Best suited for cancer localized to the prostate gland (had not spread or metastasized outside the gland)
  • Typically an outpatient procedure
  • Typically requires a spinal or epidural anesthesia
  • Less invasive than surgery – no cutting or incision
  • Both have the ability to target specific tissue (focal therapy) and not treat the entire gland is the physician determines that is medically appropriate.
  • Both can be used as a salvage treatment after radiation failure.

What makes HIFU and Cryotherapy different?

Although the two procedures have similarities and are both minimally invasive, there are several things that make them very different.

  • HIFU uses focused ultrasound to heat and destroy tissue in a very targeted manor. No tissue outside the targeted area is damaged due to the nature of ultrasound energy. Since cryotherapy uses a type of ice bubble to freeze prostate cells, it is less accurate and there is a higher chance that cells surrounding the targeted tissue will be damaged.
  • While men who have chosen HIFU have very few side effects afterwards related to sexual function, this type of complication is much more common after cryotherapy.

We encourage all men to speak with their doctor and healthcare providers about which treatment is best for them based on their diagnosis and medical history.

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