Prostate Cancer Treatment Using Cryosurgery or Cryoblation

Also known as cryoablation or cryosurgery, cryotherapy is a treatment that destroys cancer cells by freezing them. In the procedure, thin needles (cryoprobes) are inserted through the perineum (the area between the scrotum and anus) and into the prostate. Needle placement is guided with an ultrasound probe placed in the rectum. Freezing gases drop the temperature of the cryoprobes to about -40° C.

The extremely low temperatures freeze the entire prostate and some of the nearby tissue. Warm saline is circulated through the urethra and bladder to protect them from the freezing temperatures.

Cryotherapy may be a reasonable option for men whose cancer is contained within the prostate, and it is sometimes used when radiation therapy has failed to destroy the cancer. The risk of erectile dysfunction (ED, impotence) is high with cryoablation, and its long-term effectiveness is less certain than that of surgery or radiation therapy.

Updated by Remedy Health Media

Publication Review By: H. Ballentine Carter, M.D.

Published: 18 Apr 2011

Last Modified: 19 Feb 2015