Cryotherapy is an option worth exploring, particularly for men who have other health problems that might impair their recovery from a surgical procedure. In the same vein, cryotherapy has been used as a secondary local therapy in men who underwent radiation therapy, and has shown five-year disease-free rates around 40%. However, because the procedure does not completely destroy all remaining prostate cells, the PSA generally does not drop to 0, so it is often difficult to determine complete success. Men with lower pre-cryotherapy PSA levels and lower Gleason scores tend to fare better, while those who received hormone therapy in addition to radiation therapy tend to fare worse.
Side effects of cryotherapy tend to be milder compared with standard salvage prostatectomy, and the same holds true when used after radiation therapy. Nevertheless, rates for erectile dysfunction and urinary incontinence following this salvage procedure remain high, as do rates for pelvic or rectal pain. Because the severity of side effects tends to correlate with the amount of tissue that is frozen during therapy, better techniques that are currently being studied might improve outcomes over time.
Terms to know from this article:
prostate-specific antigen (PSA): A substance produced by the prostate that may be found in an increased amount in the blood of men who have prostate cancer, benign prostatic hyperplasia, or infection or inflammation of the prostate.