Cryosurgery is used to freeze and kill abnormal cells. For this reason, it is used as a treatment for some types of cancer.
Cryosurgery can be an alternative to a prostatectomy, as long as the cancer is in its early stages and still confined to the prostate gland. However, a man with an oversized prostate may not be a good candidate for cryosurgery. An Inland Empire board certified urologist will exam the patient and determine whether he is a good candidate for cryosurgery.
Reasons to Consider Cryosurgery
- Cryosurgery is much less invasive.
- There is usually less blood loss.
- Cryosurgery offers patients less pain and shorter hospital stays.
- The recovery time is shorter.
How Cryosurgery is Performed to Treat Prostate Cancer
- The physician will put the patient to sleep with general anesthesia or numb him from the waist down with an epidural.
- Several hollow needles are placed between the scrotum and the anus. The Urology physician/urologist guides these needles into the prostate with the help of a transrectal ultrasound.
- Cooled gases are passed through these hollow needles. These gases destroy the prostate gland. The physician pays close attention to the transrectal ultrasound images during this phase of the procedure to ensure that nearby tissues do not incur damage.
- Throughout the procedure, the physician will circulate warm salt water through the patient’s urethra and into a catheter to keep it from freezing.
- The patient could have a catheter in his urethra for approximately three weeks following his surgery. This allows his bladder to empty while he recovers.
- Most Inland Empire patients are able to leave the hospital the same day.
Potential Side Effects
The side effects tend to be worse for men who have previously undergone radiation therapy, as opposed to those who have cryosurgery as their first treatment.
- The majority of men will have blood in their urine for a couple of days.
- Most men will experience soreness in the area where the physician placed the needles.
- The man could experience a burning sensation and pain when he urinates or moves his bowels.
- He may find that he needs to empty his bowels and bladder more often. However, the majority of men will recover normal bladder and bowel function over time.
- Urinary incontinence is a rarity among men who undergo cryosurgery before any other treatment for prostate cancer.
- Freezing the nerves near the prostate can cause erectile dysfunction.
- Following cryosurgery, less than 1 percent of men will develop an abnormal connection between their bladder and rectum. This condition usually has to be surgically repaired.
A patient needs to follow-up with his Rancho Mirage urologist after his cryosurgery procedure to ensure everything is healing well, and his cancer is in remission.
Cryosurgery’s Long-Term Effectiveness is Unknown
Most Urology doctors know more about the effectiveness of radiation and surgery than they do about cryosurgery. Because of this, the majority of Rancho Mirage urologists don’t consider cryosurgery their first treatment option for prostate cancer. Sometimes physicians will recommend cryosurgery if the cancer returns following other treatments.