Cryotherapy, or cold therapy, is a minimally invasive treatment that uses extremely cold temperatures to freeze and destroy cancer cells and tissue in the prostate with minimal side effects. Although this procedure is a relatively newer prostate cancer treatment and lacks studies to determine its long term effectiveness, cryotherapy has shown to be effective among selected patients who have failed previous radiation treatment or have recurring prostate cancer or localized tumors. Also, a portion of the prostate or the entire prostate can be treated to destroy the tumor.
With cryotherapy, the patient is placed under general anesthesia. The surgeon uses ultrasound to accurately insert ultra-thin needles into the prostate gland through the perineum, the area that lies between the scrotum and anus. To protect the urethra from sub-zero temperatures, a warm saline solution flows through a catheter, and temperature monitors are placed around the prostate.
Once the needles are positioned, cold argon gas is infused into the needles, freezing the prostate gland and destroying the cancerous tissues. In most cases, this procedure is performed in an outpatient setting and takes up to one to two hours.
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