Cryotherapy eradicates prostate cancer by freezing the prostate.
Cryotherapy can be performed under a general or regional anaesthetic.
There is no incision; up to 14 needles are inserted into the prostate through the perineum (the area behind the scrotum). The surgeon uses ultrasound to guide the insertion of the needles and monitor the freezing process.
Argon and helium gases circulate through the needles providing the surgeon with controllable freezing and thawing capabilities. The temperature within the prostate is lowered to -40°C for several minutes, which destroys the entire prostate, including cancerous tissue.
In most cases, the procedure takes less than two hours.
The patient will generally spend 2-3 nights in hospital.
As cryotherapy isn’t a major surgery, there is minimal to no pain, and patients recover quickly. You can be back to your regular life soon after your cryotherapy procedure.
Some side effects include:
- Swelling in the genital area may occur due to the entry of needles through the perineum causes irritation and inflammation. Your doctor may suggest an over-the-counter anti-inflammatory like Ibuprofen, or the use of ice packs.
- Many patients experience irritation during urination after prostate cryotherapy, but symptoms will usually dissipate within a few days. There may also be a feeling of needing to urgently urinate, but it should not worsen after a few days.
- Blood may be present in the urine after the procedure, but should dissipate after a few days.
Cryotherapy is minimally invasive and few complications are expected. Advances in the minimally invasive needles used for the cryotherapy have greatly decreased the occurrence of many side effects.
Side effects usually occur due to damage of the surrounding tissue during the procedure. Complications are largely affected by the relative health of the patient before the procedure, as well as whether cryotherapy is the first treatment administered for prostate cancer, or a secondary treatment option.
As with any medical procedure, there are always risks. Complications that may occur after prostate cryotherapy include:
- Prostate cryotherapy has relatively low rates of incontinence (loss of bladder control).
- Scrotal edema (fluid collecting in the scrotum) is a more severe complication.
- Cryotherapy is associated with higher rates of impotence (loss of erections).
- One of the more serious albeit rare side effects of cryotherapy is urethro-rectal fistula. It occurs when an unnatural channel forms between the urethra, and the results can include diarrhea or urinary tract infections. New techniques in cryotherapy have led to a decrease in instances of this complication.
If you’re interested in having prostate cryotherapy at Grace Hospital to treat your prostate cancer, contact your GP for a referral to Mark Fraundorfer.