Cryosurgery is a relatively new prostate cancer treatment. Also referred to as ‘Prostate Cryotherapy’ or cryoablation’, it is a minimal invasive surgery capable of using controlled freeze and thaw cycle to destroy the diseased/cancer cells.
Cryosurgery’s role in the Treatment of Prostate Cancer:
As cryosurgery is new and lacks survey records of survival, it is not used as often as radiation therapy for primary treatment. It is however effective in treating prostate cancer cases that are radio resistant and recur as a result. Some doctors believe that the use of freezing temperature rather than strong doses of radiation therapy is more effective for radiation resistant prostate cancer.
Cryosurgery works with the freezing of cancer cells. This freezing helps in the formation crystals inside and around them. The freezing and thawing process destroys cancer cells through dehydration, drastic changes in pH levels or prevention of the flow of red blood cells. Subjecting the prostate gland to freezing temperatures, specifically negative 40 degree Celsius, also activates an anti-tumor response in the body. The anti-tumor response begins with the production of antibodies that work to eradicate the tumor.
History of Cryosurgery:
Cryablation which literally means “destruction of tissue by cold” dates back to the 19th century when mixtures of ice and salt were applied to the breast and cervix for the treatment of cancer. Modern Cryosurgery began in 1966 when doctors used liquid nitrogen in place of ice. A perineal incision was made through which an instrument called cryoprobe was placed. Liquid nitrogen was circulated through the probe to freeze the gland. In 1974 doctors started using a transperineal approach.
Today, 3rd generation needles are used more effectively through the guidance of the transrectal ultrasound. The use of argon and helium gas and cryoneedles help the doctors to carefully place and form an ice ball that will destroy the prostate cancer tissue.
Advantages and Disadvantages of Cryosurgery:
Cryosurgery is an effective primary treatment for those who are in the early stage of prostate cancer with low risk of tumor extension. It may be an excellent alternative for those patients who are not fit for prostatectomy. Cryosurgery may be used if EBRT fails and the cancerous cells are radio resistant. The patient experiences only minimal blood loss. The patient has to spend just a day or overnight stay in the hospital.