Cryoablation or cryotherapy is an innovative prostate cancer treatment in which tumors are destroyed through exposure to extreme cold. Also known as cryosurgery, it can sometimes be used in place of more invasive procedures, such as a radical prostatectomy or radiation therapy.
To perform cryoablation on a prostate tumor, a surgeon will use transrectal ultrasound guidance to insert a small probe into the prostate tumor through the perineum (skin behind the scrotum). Freezing gas, such as liquid nitrogen or argon will pass through the probe, come into contact with the prostate tumor and destroy the cells. The frozen tissues will eventually thaw, and the tissue will turn into a scar.
Cryoablation or cryotherapy is most commonly recommended for prostate cancer patients who have:
- A low prostate specific antigen (PSA) level
- A Gleason score of 7
- A less advanced clinical stage of cancer
- Undergone previous radiation therapy
The risks and side effects of cryoablation for prostate cancer can include:
- Bleeding or infection in the area treated
- Urinary urgency and frequency
- Burning with urination
- Difficulty emptying the bladder
- Loss of bladder control
- Erectile dysfunction
- Pain and swelling of the scrotum and penis
After the procedure, your surgeon will monitor you with PSA, prostate MRI and future biopsies.
At Moffitt Cancer Center, we assess each patient on an individual basis to determine which treatments offer the best chances of success. If cryoablation is recommended for a prostate cancer patient, the procedure will be performed by one of our experienced surgeons, and the patient’s recovery will be monitored by a multispecialty team of medical professionals.
For cryoablation to be successful, it needs to be performed by a knowledgeable practitioner – and nobody understands that better than Moffitt. Because we treat thousands of prostate cancer surgery patients each year, our surgeons have an unmatched level of experience that allows them to provide this therapy with great accuracy and skill. At the end of the day, numbers matter, and our high-volume cancer center produces exceptional patient outcomes for cryoablation and other minimally invasive surgeries.
Medically reviewed by Dr. Alice Yu, Genitourinary Oncology Program