Cryotherapy for Prostate Cancer

Cryotherapy can be used in many applications out there but there are some more niche treatments of cryotherapy. One of particular note is cryotherapy for prostate cancer. Today we’ll be looking into further details about this process.

Why is this done?

First let’s explain the process. Cryotherapy in this process is designed to freeze the tissue that’s within the prostate gland. After the area is frozen, the cancer in the prostate will die.

For this process, your doctor may propose this as an option at various points in your cancer treatment. As for the reasons, cryotherapy may be on the table in situations such as:

  • It’s the primary treatment of the cancer you have. This is proposed when doctors detect early-stages of the cancer and are confined in your prostate.
  • After other cancer treatments have been used. For example if you used radiation therapy before, cryotherapy may be recommended to stop the growth of prostate cancer that may have returned.

Generally speaking, cryotherapy to treat prostate cancer isn’t recommended for men when:

  • They have normal sexual functionality.
  • Have a history of surgery for anal or rectal cancer.
  • Prostates can’t be monitored through use of ultrasound probe during the procedure.
  • Have large tumours that simply aren’t treatable through cryotherapy without causing damage to the surrounding organs or tissue like the rectum or bladder.

Risks

Even if you get approved to have cryotherapy treatment, there are still some risks that are connected to it. Much like with every medical procedure this is nothing new, however it’s important to know whether the risks are worth it. Some side effects that are involved in cryotherapy for prostate cancer include things like:

  • Erectile dysfunction
  • Swelling and pain of both the scrotum and penis.
  • Frequent, painful and difficult urination.
  • Blood being found in the urine.
  • Losing bladder control.
  • Bleeding in the treated area or potential infection.

And on rare occasions, patients may experience these side effects:

  • Damaged rectum.
  • Blockage in the urethra (tube that carries urine out of your body)
  • Inflammation or infection of the pubic bone.

How you can prepare

Despite the risks associated to it, there are ways to prepare yourself for the procedure. Most of it is knowing what will be done during the process.

First off before the operation even begins, doctors may recommend an enema first. This will help in emptying out your colon. They also will recommending an antibiotic that’ll help in preventing infection while you are going through the procedure.

During the process

The process for the treatment is all done at the hospital. It all starts with an anesthetic which you could take or is applied by the doctor in the surgical area.

Once the anesthetic is triggered, a ultrasound probe will be placed in your rectum. There will also be a catheter inside of your urethra. The catheter in question has warming solution which’ll keep the urethra from freezing over while the procedure is being done.

From there, there’ll be several thin metal probes that’ll be put through the area between your anus and scrotum and into the prostate. These probes could also be needles as well.

From there, the doctor will be watching the images that the ultrasound probe is emitting to ensure that the probes or needles are placed in the correct spot. From there there’ll be a release of argon gas which’ll circulate through the needles or the probes. This’ll cool them down and also freeze any nearby prostate tissue.

The last steps involve the doctor monitoring and controlling the temperature of the needles. All while assessing how much freezing is needed in the prostate gland. Lastly after the process is complete, a doctor may place another catheter in your bladder via your lower abdomen. This’ll help in draining urine after the operation.

After the process

While a lot goes into this operation, this is an operation that takes only a day. You will more than likely be able to go back home right after the procedure is complete. That being said, you are free to spend the night for one night. Regardless, the catheter inside of you may need to stay in there for roughly two weeks which accounts for healing. Furthermore, you may be given antibiotics that’ll prevent infection.

After that one night, you’ll notice that the process doesn’t cause you to lose a lot of blood. In fact, very little blood is lost. However you may experience blood loss or other things in other areas. Patients have reported in the past the following:

  • Soreness and bruising for several days in the places where probes or needles were placed.
  • Blood in the urine for many days.
  • Struggles with bladder and bowel emptying. This normally resolves over time.

That being said, it’s not out of the ordinary for patients who have gone through the process to experience impotence and sexual dysfunction in their lives.