Freezing Prostate Cancer with Cryotherapy

Current generation technology is an effective option for localized prostate cancer
Austin, TX Sep 24, 2014 — September is Prostate Cancer Awareness Month. According to the American Cancer Society®, prostate cancer is the second most common cancer striking men after skin cancer.1 Thanks to advances in diagnosis and treatment, prostate cancer has one of the highest survival rates of any type of cancer.1 Treatment options include prostatectomy (surgical removal of the prostate), radiation, chemotherapy, hormone therapy and cryoablation (cryotherapy).2
While the majority of prostate cancers are treated with radiation and surgery, the minimally invasive, localized procedure known as cryotherapy is gaining more interest, particularly, for cancers in older men and for recurring prostate cancer.
Localized Cancer Treatment
Cryotherapy uses freezing technology to kill cancerous tissue. Different from radiation, which can require up to 45 treatments, cryotherapy is usually a one-time treatment. As an outpatient procedure, cryotherapy patients typically have minimal pain and are able to return to normal activities shortly after their procedure.
When Cancer Comes Back
According to a study in the Reviews in Urology, approximately one third of the 233,000 men who are diagnosed with prostate cancer each year will undergo radiation.3 Unfortunately, the cancer will return in 20% to 66% of these men. 3
One of those men is 67-year-old Ronald Wolters. Wolters was diagnosed with prostate cancer in 2011 and opted for radiation as a first line treatment. He underwent 45 radiation treatments over a nine week period, but approximately a year ago, his PSA levels began to rise, a sign that the radiation did not kill all of his cancer.
“When my doctor explained that cryotherapy was an option for me, I wholeheartedly agreed to undergo the procedure,” explained Wolters. “The idea that freezing technology could potentially kill the cancer was extremely exciting to me.”
Salvage therapy, also known as rescue therapy, is a form of treatment administered when other therapies have not been successful. A growing amount of evidence supports the use of cryotherapy for patients with localized prostate cancer following radiation therapy, according to an editorial in European Urology.4
“It’s a sad truth that one out of four men will have recurrent prostate cancer after radiation therapy. Many of those patients are told there are no other options,” explained Dr. Eric Giesler, a urologist with the Urology Team in Austin, Texas. “Cryotherapy is a viable, minimally-invasive treatment where many patients go home the same day.”
Wolters was also impressed with the little downtime of cryotherapy. “I was back on the golf course within a week, doing what I love most.”
Current Generation Technology Has Fewer Side Effects
Early cryotherapy treatments in the 1960s used liquid nitrogen to create an ice ball to freeze tissue. Use of nitrogen, however, lacked precise control and monitoring, resulting in high complication rates.
The treatment has since been revolutionized and has transitioned to argon–based systems, which use ultrathin needles to create precisely controlled ice balls. Ultrasound imaging has also evolved with cryotherapy and provides visualization of the generated ice ball. Cryoablation now incorporates routine use of advanced sensing probes, double freeze–thaw cycles, and urethral warming catheters. When used together, these technical advances, along with improvements in technique, have led to reductions in side effects.
It is important to note, however, as with any treatment for prostate cancer, side effects may occur after cryotherapy. These side effects may include loss of urinary control, injury to the rectum, and loss of sexual function.
“Unfortunately, many of the treatments we use to kill prostate cancer come with potential side effects such as incontinence,” said Dr. Giesler. “Fortunately, with the improvements in cryotherapy we’ve seen in the last decade, the occurrence of incontinence has been dramatically reduced and is often only a temporary side effect.”
Cryotherapy is also used to treat cancers of the kidneys and lungs, as well as treating liver metastases and providing palliative intervention for cancer.
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Interview Opportunities:
Dr. Eric Giesler, Urologist, Urology Team, Austin, Texas
Ronald Wolters, Prostate cancer patient who underwent Cryotherapy procedure
3 Lam JS and Belldegrun AS: Salvage Cryosurgery of the Prostate after Radiation Failure. Rev. Urol. 2004; 6(Suppl. 4):S27-S36.
4 Jones JS: Radiorecurrent Prostate Cancer: An Emerging and Largely Mismanaged Epidemic. Eur. Uro. 2011; 60:411-412.
About HealthTronics
HealthTronics, Inc., established in 1989 and headquartered in Austin, Texas, provides integrated urological and interventional radiology products and services, as well as physician partnership opportunities. The company brings its advanced technology and support systems to health care providers throughout the United States. For more information visit
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