Cryotherapy is a way of killing cancer cells by freezing them. It is also called cryoablation or cryosurgery.
Usually, cryotherapy is used to treat prostate cancer that has returned after an initial treatment such as radiotherapy (this is called a ‘salvage treatment’). Cryotherapy can be used to treat early localised prostate cancer but it is not known whether it is as effective as surgery or radiotherapy to treat early disease.
This treatment is performed under anaesthetic and usually takes less than two hours.
Before treatment,men may have an enema to clear out their lower bowel. This will help the accuracy of treatment and will also reduce the risk of infection.
In the treatment room, a urinary catheter will be placed into the urethra (urine passage) and warm water will be flushed through. This will protect the urethra from becoming damaged during treatment.
Cryotherapy needles called cryoprobes are then pushed through the skin of the perineum (the area between the scrotum and anus) and an ultrasound scan or x-ray is used to check that they are in the right place.
A substance called argon is then circulated through the needles to freeze the prostate cancer.
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