Cryotherapy for prostate cancer - What is it and how it works

Cryotherapy for prostate cancer – What is it and how it works

Cryotherapy is a potential procedure that men with early-stage prostate cancer may consider. This procedure is sometimes referred to as cryosurgery or cryoablation. Although not commonly used in treating prostate cancer, doctors may recommend it if a man’s prostate cancer returns after radiation treatment as a first or second-line treatment. However, cryotherapy can be an option used as the initial treatment for men with prostate cancer. 

Cryotherapy for prostate cancer – How does it work?

Cryotherapy is a surgical procedure that uses extreme cold to freeze and eliminate prostate cancer cells. The primary objective of this procedure is to destroy the entire prostate gland, thereby reducing the probability of cancer recurrence. This technique involves the use of argon gas, which is circulated through hollow needles inserted into the prostate gland. The extreme cold temperature causes the cancer cells to freeze and die, eventually leading to their elimination from the body. Cryotherapy is a promising technique that has demonstrated efficacy in treating prostate cancer in select patients. However, it is essential to note that this procedure is not suitable for all patients and requires careful consideration by a qualified medical professional.

Which prostate cancer patients are candidates for cryotherapy?

The procedure may be recommended for men with prostate cancer who meet the following criteria:

  • Men with early-stage prostate cancer 
  • The prostate cancer is confined to the prostate gland and has not spread
  • The prostate cancer has been determined to be slow-growing
  • The prostate cancer has a low risk of spreading
  • Men who want to avoid surgery or radiation
  • Used to treat prostate cancer that has returned after radiation treatment
  • To provide relief of pain or other symptoms 
  • Men with chronic health conditions like diabetes, lung or heart disease who may not be eligible or candidates for surgery

Efficacy of cryotherapy in prostate cancer treatment

Cryotherapy was first experimentally tested for treating prostate cancer during the 1960’s. Initially during this time, complication rates were high. Today, outcomes have improved vastly thanks to new imaging techniques helping guide the treatment. 

The success or efficacy rate of cryotherapy appears to range from 76% to 90% for overall survival rate from various studies. A 2022 study using more than 11,000 men with low- or intermediate-risk prostate cancer had a survival rate ranging from 61.3% to 99.1%. This same study found there was no difference whether the outcome of the man receiving cryotherapy was received as a first-line or second-line treatment. 

The success rate was measured by the following the amount of time until there was:

  • A rise in a man’s prostate-specific antigen (PSA) levels
  • An increase of the tumor size
  • A need to choose a different treatment method

Potential side effects and complications of cryotherapy

The recovery time after cryotherapy for prostate cancer takes about a week. Men will need to follow their doctor’s instructions as to when they can return to normal activities. 

Some men may experience the following side effects or complications:

  • Scrotal or penis swelling
  • Burning or pain when urinating
  • Pelvic or rectal pain where the needles were placed
  • Bloody urine
  • Increased frequency or urge to urinate
  • Erectile dysfunction if any nerves that control erections were damaged from the freezing
  • Men who’ve had radiation may experience urinary incontinence
  • Possible injury to tissues surrounding the rectum or bladder
  • Development of a fistula, (an abnomal opening) that may occur between  the urethra and rectum, which happens to less than 1% of men. If it does, it likely will require surgery to repair.

Dr. David Samadi is the Director of Men’s Health and Urologic Oncology at St. Francis Hospital in Long Island. He’s a renowned and highly successful board certified Urologic Oncologist Expert and Robotic Surgeon in New York City, regarded as one of the leading prostate surgeons in the U.S., with a vast expertise in prostate cancer treatment and Robotic-Assisted Laparoscopic Prostatectomy.  Dr. Samadi is a medical contributor to NewsMax TV and is also the author of The Ultimate MANual, Dr. Samadi’s Guide to Men’s Health and Wellness, available online both on Amazon and Barnes & Noble. Visit Dr. Samadi’s websites at robotic oncology and prostate cancer 911. 

Dr. David Samadi | Robotic Prostate Surgeon

About is a resource created by Dr. David Samadi in order to raise awareness and get more men to receive prostate cancer treatment. The information is strictly general and you should always discuss with your doctor issues concerning your health.


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