When it comes to prostate cancer, there are a multitude of treatment options, such as prostatectomy, cryotherapy, hormone therapy, and radiation. Cryotherapy is an option that can be very effective for some patients. It utilizes extremely cold temperatures to freeze and destroy cancerous cells in the prostate.

Cryotherapy Origins

Cryotherapy is actually a medical practice that has been around for some time. Primitive forms of cryotherapy have been used since the early 19th century when ice and salt mixtures were used for breast and cervix cancers. The modern version of cryotherapy, however, that utilizes liquid nitrogen dates back to the late 1960s. Modern cryotherapy for prostate cancer works by cutting a small incision under the scrotum. Then the surgeon inserts a small metal needle into the incision that is used to direct the cold gases. Using an ultrasound to detect the cancerous regions, the surgeon can minimize damage to non-cancerous tissue.

How Does Cryotherapy Work?

To combat the extreme temperature of cryotherapy, a catheter filled with a warm saline solution is employed to shield the urethra. Due to the short recovery period, small incision, and minimal discomfort, cryotherapy is considered less invasive than a lot of other prostate cancer treatment options and can often be completed without an overnight hospital stay. Since cryotherapy does not typically require anesthesia and can be administered using an epidural, it is a good option for older patients and men with other significant ailments, including diabetes and heart disease.

Cryotherapy Side Effects

Once cryotherapy is complete, patients may experience side effects like hematuria (blood in their urine), swelling, soreness, and erectile dysfunction. Most, however, have minimal issues which go away over time. If cryotherapy has been used in conjunction with other prostate cancer treatments such as radiation, patients may experience more serious side effects and urinary incontinence.

Approximately One-third of Men with Prostate Cancer have a Recurrence

Because approximately one-third of men with prostate cancer have a recurrence, further treatment is important. Cryotherapy’s flexibility, quick recovery time, and minimal side effects make it an advantageous choice to treat returning prostate cancer. Nevertheless, patients should check with their doctor for further information about cryotherapy and its use in their treatment.

Prostate Cancer is Common, but Treatments Abound

Cryotherapy is a favorable option because it is less invasive than many treatments and can be used by almost any patient—young or old, healthy or unhealthy. Patients should work closely with their doctors to ensure the treatment plans are ideal for their personal situations.

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