Cryotherapy for Prostate Cancer

Before prostate cryotherapy.

Before prostate cryotherapy.

This is a procedure to treat prostate cancer. Cryoablation, like prostate brachytherapy, is usually performed in an outpatient setting with anesthesia. An ultrasound probe is placed into the rectum, and then small needles are placed into the prostate that are used to freeze the prostate.

Temperature probes are also placed around the prostate for monitoring. A warming device is placed into the urethra (the tube one urinates through that passes through the prostate), to protect it from injury. The prostate is then frozen under watchful guidance. The surgeon is able to visualize the freezing process with ultrasound; he can thereby direct which tissues are frozen.

During the procedure.

During the procedure.

 

The surgeon controls the freezing process. Typically the entire gland is frozen, while the surrounding tissues (such as the rectum and urinary sphincter) remain unaffected. Once the prostate is frozen, then it is rapidly thawed, and then the freeze-thaw cycle is repeated. The freeze/thaw process effectively treats prostate cancer by directly killing the cancer cells.

Cryoablation is an excellent option for low and high-risk prostate cancers. Focal cryoablation is a newer technique in which only the portion of the prostate with cancer is frozen.

 

After the procedure.

After the procedure.

Focal therapy is limited to select cases of isolated, localized, lower risk disease. Patients are counseled that disease may subsequently present in the untreated portions of the prostate.

Side effects of total gland or focal cryoablation include the risk of erectile dysfunction, as the nerves that control erection may be affected. Urinary frequency and urgency may also occur, however incontinence is rare. The procedure is very safe, with an extremely low risk of more serious side effects.

The urologists at Napa Valley Urology Associates are recognized experts in prostate cryoablation. They have trained urologists from around the world in the technique of total and focal prostate cryoablation.