Cryosurgery for Prostate Cancer in San Antonio, TX
Cryosurgery, also often referred to as cryotherapy, is a procedural method used to destroy prostate cancer cells by freezing them. The term “cryosurgery” is actually a misnomer, as this treatment does not involve any sort of surgical equipment or techniques at all.
Dr. Sammy Vick is likely to recommend cryosurgery for men with early-stage prostate cancer, or those who’s prostate cancer has returned after other treatments were completed.
How Cryosurgery Is Used
Before Dr. Vick begins cryosurgery treatment, the patient will be made comfortable with anesthesia. Most often, this will involve either numbing the lower half of the body using an epidural, or applying general anesthesia so that the patient is asleep throughout the procedure.
Using a transrectal ultrasound to guide their instruments and clearly identify parts of the prostate that have been affected by cancer, Dr. Vick will insert several fine needles into the prostate gland. These needles, called cryoprobes, are each filled with argon gas, which works to immediately freeze the prostate tissues and cancer cells once injected into specific target areas. In some instances, nitrogen may be used in place of argon to complete this process.
The Recovery Process
Because cryosurgery is not a surgery, it tends to have significantly lower rates for potential complications, as well as reduced recovery time than most surgical alternatives. Patients are typically held for observation immediately following their cryotherapy treatment, but can return home shortly after the anesthetic wears off.
Urinary functions may be compromised within the first few hours following cryosurgery, in which case a catheter will be used to assist in the elimination of urine from the body until the patient is able to control urination on their own.
Who Is a Candidate for Cryosurgery?
As mentioned above, most men who elect for cryosurgery have encountered prostate cancer before, or are within the very first stages of the disease. Other factors that can influence a person’s eligibility for cryosurgery include:
- If they are unable to undergo radiation treatments or surgery for prostate cancer due to problems with their health
- If the prostate cancer is a non-aggressive form
- If the patient wishes to avoid radiation therapy and/or surgical intervention
Risks of the Procedure
As with any medical treatment plan, it is important to note all possible side effects that may result from cryosurgery. Following treatment, patients should expect some soreness and swelling to the affected area. It is also entirely normal for blood to be present in the urine in small amounts for approximately 3-5 days after cryosurgery has been completed, though you should consult with Dr. Vick right away if these symptoms worsen or do not improve with time.
This procedure is known to have many noteworthy effects on the reproductive system, so it may not be a suitable option for men wishing to conceive after treatment. Other common risks of cryosurgery for prostate cancer include:
- Injury or blockage of the urethra
- Damage to the bladder that may lead to urinary incontinence
- Erectile dysfunction
- Painful urination
- Impaired bowel function
- Rarely, a fistula can develop between the rectum and bladder
Benefits of Cryosurgery
Though the risks that cryosurgery poses may seem a bit frightening, there are many reasons why this procedure is still often recommended by Dr. Vick for the treatment of prostate cancer. Cryosurgery is much less invasive than a traditional, surgical approach, which allows it to offer several attractive advantages, such as:
- Less swelling or general discomfort following the procedure
- A shorter or non-existent hospital stay
- Less blood loss
- Reduced recovery time
Exploring Your Options in San Antonio, TX
It is important to thoroughly discuss the possibility of cryosurgery and various other treatment options with your physician in order to find the right solution for you and your case of prostate cancer. If you are considering cryosurgery and would like more information from Dr. Vick about this process, please call (210) 616-0410 today to set up an appointment at our local office. We also accept appointment requests online via our secure form.