Prostate cryoablation is a minimally invasive method to treat prostate cancer without removing the prostate. With this procedure, the prostate gland and cancer are frozen to lethal temperatures with no incisions. The surgery offers a quick recovery time and may be done on an outpatient basis. Washington University urologists have the greatest expertise in the region with this procedure. It may be offered under three general circumstances:

Primary Prostate Cancer

For some patients with a new diagnosis of prostate cancer, prostate cryoablation is offered as an alternative to radical prostatectomy, brachytherapy (seeds) or external beam radiation therapy. The entire prostate gland is treated and, after the procedure, prostate-specific antigen (PSA) values are checked regularly. Washington University urologists also offer laparoscopic lymph node removal at the time of the ablation to remove any potentially cancerous lymph nodes.

Focal Prostate Cancer Ablation

In this procedure, the entire prostate is not treated. Instead, only the portion of the gland that has the cancer is treated. This allows the patient to retain most of his prostate and functions related to it. For many men, the location and extent of the cancer is determined by an MRI. A follow-up MRI and biopsy of the prostate will also be done to make sure that the gland does not develop any more cancers. Laparoscopic lymph node removal also may be performed at the time of the ablation.

Rising PSA after Radiation Treatment or Brachytherapy

If the PSA starts to rise after the patient has undergone radiation or brachytherapy, this may indicate cancer recurrence in the prostate gland. Prostate biopsy or MRI is used to confirm the presence of the cancer and its location. Salvage cryoablation can be performed to treat any cancer remaining in the prostate. Laparoscopic lymph node removal and/or prostate biopsies may be needed.

More information on prostate cancer treatment at Siteman Cancer Center.