What is cryotherapy?
Cryotherapy is a way of treating prostate cancer that uses freezing and thawing to kill the cancer cells in the prostate gland. It is also sometimes known as cryosurgery and cryoablation. It is done using a number of thin needles (cryoneedles) which are inserted into the prostate gland under anaesthetic. This process kills both normal cells and cancer cells within the gland.
The treatment involves getting the right balance between freezing the whole prostate gland, to kill all the cancer cells, and protecting healthy parts of the gland and surrounding tissues to avoid damaging them.
There have been improvements in cryotherapy in recent years, which have reduced the risk of side effects and improved the success of the treatment. However, we need more research to show whether cryotherapy improves quality of life or is as effective in the long term compared to other treatments..
Who can have cryotherapy?
Cryotherapy can be used to treat prostate cancer that has not spread outside the prostate gland (localised prostate cancer). It is also sometimes used to treat cancer that is breaking through the capsule of the prostate. It is not suitable for cancer that has spread to other parts of the body (advanced prostate cancer).
It is most commonly an option for men whose prostate cancer has come back after treatment with radiotherapy or brachytherapy. It is less commonly offered as a first treatment for prostate cancer. However, it may be an option for men who are unable to have surgery to treat prostate cancer, for example because they have heart problems (cardiovascular problems) which can make surgery more risky.
Men with severe urinary symptoms may not be suitable for cryotherapy as it may make these problems worse. If you have difficulty passing urine or have to pass urine frequently you may wish to discuss this with your specialist team.
What are the advantages and disadvantages?
The advantages and disadvantages of cryotherapy may depend on whether you are having it as a first treatment for prostate cancer, or because the cancer has come back after another treatment. There is a higher risk of side effects if you have already had treatment for prostate cancer.
• It involves less invasive surgery with little b