The prostate gland sits below a male’s bladder and wraps around the urethra, the tube that carries urine out of the body. The prostate helps with the creation of semen. Unfortunately, like many other parts of the body, the prostate is susceptible to cancer. While many treatments exist, a highly innovative treatment used to treat prostate cancer nowadays is cryotherapy.
Cryotherapy is an effective and safe procedure for treating and removing prostate cancer in a minimally invasive manner. The cancer cells are frozen and their blood supply is cut off during cryotherapy. Tiny needles are placed right into the tumor. Argon gases are passed through the needles and exchanged with helium gases. This causes a freezing and warming cycle. The body naturally absorbs the frozen, dead tissue as it thaws.
Cryotherapy for Prostate Cancer
Cryotherapy for prostate cancer may be recommended by your doctor at various times during your cancer treatment and for various reasons. For instance, cryotherapy might be recommended:
· As a first-line cancer treatment if your cancer is limited to your prostate and other treatments aren’t an option.
· As a treatment for prostate cancer that has returned after initial treatment.
Cryotherapy for prostate cancer isn’t generally recommended if you:
· Previously had surgery for rectal or anal cancer
· Have a condition that makes it difficult or impossible to monitor the prostate with an ultrasound probe during the procedure
· Have a large tumor that cryotherapy can’t treat without causing damage to surrounding tissue and organs, such as the rectum or bladder
How is Cryotherapy Done?
This procedure necessitates either spinal or epidural anesthesia (numbing of the lower half of the body) or general anesthesia (making the patient unconscious).
Several hollow probes (needles) are guided through the skin between the anus and scrotum and into the prostate by the doctor using transrectal ultrasound (TRUS).
The cancer cells are then frozen and destroyed by passing very cold gases through the needles. The doctor closely monitors the ultrasound during the procedure to ensure that cancer cells are destroyed without causing damage to nearby tissues. To prevent the urethra from freezing, warm saltwater is passed through a catheter in the urethra. After that, the catheter is left in place for a few weeks to allow the bladder to empty while you recover.
Side Effects of Cryotherapy for Prostate Cancer
As with any procedure, complications can occur. The possible complications of cryotherapy as treatment of prostate cancer may include:
· Bleeding and/or blood in urine
· Soreness or swelling in the region where the needles are put into the body (between the scrotum and the anus)
· Swelling around the penis or scrotum
· Freezing may affect the bladder and intestines, which can lead to pain and burning sensations
· Urge to empty the bladder and bowels more often (usually goes away in several weeks)
· Urinary incontinence is rare, but this may be more common if the patient has had radiation therapy in the past
· An abnormal connection (fistula) between the rectum and bladder or urethra is a rare complication
There may be other risks depending on your condition. An experienced doctor will make every attempt to reduce your risk of complications before, during, and after the procedure. Be sure to discuss any concerns with your healthcare provider before the procedure.
After the procedure, you may be taken to a recovery room. You will be connected to monitors that will display your heart rate, blood pressure, breathing rate, and your oxygen level. Once you are stable and awake, you will be taken to your hospital room. You may start to drink liquids at this point.
You may get pain medicine, as needed, going forward. You can gradually return to solid foods as you are able to handle them. Your recovery will continue to progress. You will probably have some bruising and swelling in the area where the probes were inserted.
You will be encouraged to get out of bed and walk on the same day. You may be able to go home the same or the next day. Your healthcare provider may give you other instructions after the procedure, depending on your situation.
When to Call Your Doctor
Call your healthcare provider if you have any of the following after undergoing cryotherapy:
· Changes in your urine output, color, or odor
· Inability to urinate once catheter is removed
· Increase in pain around the needle insertion sites
· Fever and/or chills
· Redness, swelling, bleeding, or other drainage from the needle insertion sites
Treatment of Prostate Cancer in Phoenix & Gilbert, AZ
Treatment for prostate cancer depends on the stage of the cancer, your age, and overall health. Schedule an appointment with Dr. Avila at Ironwood Urology to learn if cryotherapy is an appropriate treatment for you, or if another treatment is better suited for your situation. Call (480) 961-2323 or request an appointment online.