What is salvage prostate cryoablation?

Salvage cryoablation of the prostate is a procedure recommended for prostate cancer that has returned in men who have been treated previously.

Salvage literally means “save.” The doctor is trying to save the patient from the cancer. The procedure uses cryoablation, or extreme cold, to freeze the prostate, so that the cancer cells within it will freeze and die. It is also called cryosurgery or cryotherapy.

The procedure is typically done on an outpatient basis and is minimally invasive.

What is the purpose of the prostate and where is it found in your body?

The prostate is part of the male reproductive system. Its main purpose is to produce fluid for semen, the milky fluid in which sperm swims. During an orgasm, the prostate’s muscles tighten to push the semen out of the penis.

The prostate is a gland about the size of a walnut that is under the bladder and in front of the rectum, or the lower end of the bowel. The urethra, or the thin tube that runs the length of the penis and carries both urine and semen out of the body, goes through the prostate.

Salvage prostate cryoablation is mostly used in men who have already been treated with radiation for early-stage prostate cancer.

Each patient is different, and many factors are considered when looking at different treatment options. Before your healthcare provider recommends this treatment, they will consider these factors:

  • Stage of the cancer, or how much the cancer has grown and spread at the time it is diagnosed.
  • Aggressiveness, or how quickly the cancer is spreading.
  • Your age and life expectancy.
  • Your physical and sexual activity level.
  • Whether you have any other medical issues.

What is the difference between salvage cryoablation of the prostate and other treatment options for prostate cancer?

Salvage prostate cryoablation, when used on the whole gland, destroys all of the prostate tissue. Other treatments do the following:

  • Radiation therapy kills the individual cells. The more aggressive the cancer, the harder the cells are to kill with radiation.
  • Radical prostatectomy, or surgery to remove the entire prostate and some of the surrounding tissue, is sometimes done after failed radiation therapy. It has a risk of significant complications, such as incontinence and erectile dysfunction.
  • Hormonal therapy, to reduce the level of male hormones, is another option and may be recommended to reduce tumor size and slow the cancer growth. It will not cure the cancer and has significant side effects.

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