What Is Cryosurgery for Prostate Cancer?

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Cryosurgery (also known as cryoablation and cryotherapy) for prostate cancer, a procedure that delivers a gas to the tumor and freezes the cancer cells while limiting the damage to healthy tissue, is an effective treatment for men who have localized prostate cancer. That’s the conclusion of researchers at Eastern Virginia Medical School in Norfolk.

The investigators conducted a retrospective analysis of data from 190 men who had undergone cryosurgery by the same surgeon for primary treatment of localized prostate cancer (T1 to T3). The “T” classification is for tumor, with T1 indicating microscopic cancer found only in the prostate, T2 indicating cancer that has grown inside the prostate but not beyond it, and T3 indicating cancer that has barely spread outside the prostate.

During the postsurgery period, all the men had a prostate-specific antigen (PSA) test and digital rectal examination conducted at months 1, 3, 6, 9, 12, 18, 24, and 30. The definition of treatment success was determined to be a PSA nadir (lowest point) of 0.1 ng/mL or less, while a nadir of 2.0 ng/mL or greater was considered a failure.

A total of 153 patients (81%) reached the treatment goal. At one and three years postsurgery, biochemical recurrence-free survival rates were 94 percent and 85 percent, respectively.

Biochemical recurrence-free survival (also known as biochemical failure free survival, biochemical disease-free survival) means that after treatment, if a man’s PSA level does not rise for at least 2 to 3 PSA tests, he is deemed to not have biochemical failure and the cancer is neither growing nor spreading.

The researchers found a nonsignificant trend toward an increased risk of cancer recurrence among African American men, no difference in survival rates when comparing men who did or did not receive hormone therapy, and no difference when prostate size was considered (less than 40 g vs 40 g or larger). Overall, the authors concluded that “our short-term results justify the continuing use of cryosurgery for the management of localized prostate cancer.”

Read more in our Prostate Cancer Health Center.


Nederostek JC et al. Prostate cancer treated with cryotherapy: a subanalysis of stratification by risk group, race, prostate volume, and neoadjuvant hormone therapy. UroToday Intl J 2011 Aug; 4(4): art48

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