Cryosurgery for prostate cancer

Cryosurgery freezes the prostate gland to kill prostate cancer. It is sometimes a choice for treating early prostate cancer. But more research is needed before experts can say that it is a top treatment choice.

For cryosurgery, a number of probes or needles are stuck through the skin into the prostate gland. The probes are filled with very cold gas that freezes the tissue in the prostate. If you have it done in the hospital, you can expect a short stay.

After cryosurgery, your PSA level is tested. For some men, a second cryosurgery is needed before a PSA test shows that cryosurgery has worked.

Possible side effects of cryosurgery include erection problems (impotence), bladder problems, and damage to the rectum.1

  • Impotence may be more likely after cryosurgery than after radiation treatment. (But it is very common with either.)2
  • Rectum damage may be less likely after cryosurgery than after radiation.2

Like radiation, cryosurgery does not always keep cancer from coming back.2

Medicare now pays for cryosurgery.

Citations

  1. Gillett MD, et al. (2004). Tissue ablation technologies for localized prostate cancer. Mayo Clinic Proceedings, 79(12):1547–1555.
  2. Long JP, et al. (2001). Five-year retrospective, multi-institutional pooled analysis of cancer-related outcomes after cryosurgical ablation of the prostate. Urology, 57(3): 518–523.

Last Updated: June 27, 2008

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