What is cryotherapy?

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Cryosurgery

Cryosurgery (also called cryotherapy) is the process of destroying diseased skin cells (lesions) by freezing them with liquid nitrogen. It may be used to treat cancer or skin problems, such as warts.

When cryosurgery is used to treat skin problems, the skin may first be numbed with a local anesthetic. The liquid nitrogen is applied or sprayed onto the lesion and the immediate surrounding tissue. The application may be repeated.

For treating cancer inside the body, a probe may be inserted into the tumor to freeze and destroy the cancer.

What is cryosurgery for prostate cancer?

Cryosurgery uses extreme cold to destroy cancer cells. It may be used to treat early prostate cancer. It’s an option for those who can't have radiation therapy or a more invasive type of surgery. Or it may be used to treat prostate cancer that has come back after radiation therapy.

During this treatment, very thin needles, or probes, are put into the prostate. The doctor uses ultrasound to guide the probes into place. A very cold gas is passed through the probes. The gas freezes the prostate and destroys cancer cells.

A type of cryosurgery called focal cryotherapy may be an option in some cases. This targets just the tumor rather than the whole prostate. This may lead to fewer side effects, but the risk of cancer coming back (recurrence) is higher.

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