Tests and treatments
What is it?
Cryosurgery is a procedure where prostate cancer cells are destroyed by freezing them using liquid nitrogen. Using an ultrasound scan, the doctor inserts needles into the prostate gland at preselected locations. Through the needles, thin, metal cryoprobes are guided into the prostate through the skin of the perineum. Liquid nitrogen in the cryoprobes forms an ice ball that freezes the cancer cells: they will be destroyed in the thawing process. This procedure takes approximately two hours, requires anaesthesia (general anaesthesia or a spinal block) and usually results in a hospital stay of about two days.
During cryosurgery, the urethra is protected through a warm catheter which is inserted through the penis. Incontinence rarely results from this treatment. However, the nerves located above are often frozen leading to impotence in most men.
The current techniques using ultrasound guidance and temperature monitoring have only been available a few years. Long-term results (10 to 15 years) are yet to be collected and analysed. This is why few doctors will list cryosurgery as one of the treatment options for prostate cancer.
Centres and specialist areas
Latest publication date: 05/02/2021
Supervising author: Dr Ameye Filip