Cryotherapy, or cryosurgery as it is sometimes called, is a treatment freezes and destroys prostate cancer cells. During the procedure, needles containing liquid nitrogen or argon gas are inserted in the prostate. Ultrasound or MRI is used to guide the needles directly to the tumor and monitor the freezing of the cancerous cells, thus limiting damage to nearby healthy tissue.
Cryosurgery can be used to treat men who have early-stage prostate cancer that is confined to the prostate gland or men who have previously had radiation to treat prostate cancer. The technique is not as well established as standard prostatectomy and various types of radiation therapy in its effectiveness and long-term outcomes.
Understand prostate cancer treatment options
Watch short video clips of our physicians explaining risk assessment, “watchful waiting,” radiation therapy, robotic surgery and more.
Advantages of cryosurgery
- It can be repeated
- It can be used to treat men who cannot have surgery or radiation therapy because of their age or other medical problems
- It is minimally invasive and offers fewer complications than surgery
- It can sometimes be performed as an outpatient
- Treatment can be focused on a limited area, avoiding the destruction of nearby healthy tissue
- May temporarily obstruct urine flow or cause incontinence
- Some men may lose sexual function
These side effects may occur more often in men who have had radiation to the prostate.
At UC San Diego Health System, our specialists
Dr. C. Lowell Parsons and
Dr. J. Kellogg Parsons have expertise in the procedure that ranks among the world leaders in experience with prostate cryosurgery.