How does it
During treatment, very thin needles are placed in the prostate, with the help of an ultrasound probe placed in your back passage (rectum). A gas is then passed down the needles to freeze and kill the cancer cells. The prostate is frozen and thawed twice during the procedure.
Cryotherapy can be done either under a general anaesthetic (where you’ll be in a deep sleep), or with spinal or epidural anaesthetic, where the lower half of your body is numbed (you’ll stay awake but won’t feel anything).
Cryotherapy may be a suitable option:
if the cancer is only in the prostate (although doctors rarely use it as the first treatment)
if the cancer has returned after another treatment and is still only in the prostate
for men with low risk, early stage cancer confined to the prostate, who cannot receive radiation therapy (radiotherapy) or have surgery
Focal cryotherapy is suitable if you have cancer that is found in one area of the prostate only. During focal cryotherapy, just the area containing the cancer cells is targeted with extreme cold. This method does not treat the whole prostate and fewer needles are used, to try and preserve healthy tissue. It will not cure the cancer and although there are fewer side effects, you'll need close monitoring.
During whole prostate cryotherapy, the whole prostate is treated, and both cancer cells and healthy prostate tissue are frozen. Keep in mind that whole cryotherapy might not be available at your hospital or treatment centre.
Questions to ask
your doctor or care team
It's important that you communicate with your doctor or care team and ask for the information you need.
Here are some questions you might want to ask:
What are my other treatment options?
What type of cryotherapy will I have?
What will the follow-up be like to make sure my cancer is gone?
How much experience have you had with cryotherapy? What have the results been?
Will I need additional treatment?
What will my recovery look like?
What are the side effects?