Cryotherapy. The wonder of oncology.

Cryotherapy is a treatment that uses extreme cold to destroy cancer cells. It can be used to treat a number of different types of cancer and precancerous conditions.

Cryotherapy and cancer.

Cryotherapy uses extreme cold to destroy cancer cells locally. It’s also called cryosurgery or cryoablation. During cryotherapy treatment the doctor freezes the cancer cells to kill them. It doesn’t treat any cancer cells in other parts of the body. After the treatment the body’s immune system gets rid of the dead tissue over a few weeks.

Why you might have this treatment for prostate cancer.

For men with localized advanced prostate cancer this is the best option. Cryotherapy is an effective treatment and minimally invasive with low surgical risk, low morbidity with good results in the long term follow up in terms of survival, biochemical recurrence, cancer-specific survival and overall survival. It is valid technique for organ confined tumors and preferably in low- and intermediate risk groups. Its safe alternative for patients with high surgical risk or contraindication for radiotherapy with low rate of complications it can be repeated in case of biochemical relapse after histological confirmation of local recurrence.

The low rate of complications with the exception of erectile dysfunction, is good basis for the future for the election of cryosurgery s the techniques of choice for the development of prostatic focal therapy. In fact, although on n experimental basis, it is considered in clinical guidelines.

But information about the long-term outlook to find out if it is as good as other treatments at stopping the cancer coming back is still ongoing. Some cancers need to be frozen and thawed a number of times. Depending on the treatment area, it can take from a few minutes to a couple of hours. To help the doctor position the cryoprobe you may have either an ultrasound scan or CT scan. The position of the cancer in the body affects how the doctor puts the cryoprobe into the area. You may have cryotherapy through the skin (percutaneously) or cryotherapy through a scope. You might also have cryotherapy as part of a clinical trial and this may benefit patients with socio-economic strain.

Cryotherapy for changes on the cervix.

To treat precancerous changes on the cervix the doctor or nurse specialist puts a speculum into the vagina so they can see the cervix. They put special instruments called cryo-probes into the vagina so that they firmly cover the abnormal areas of cervical tissue.

The liquid nitrogen in the cryoprobes then freezes the cells. This process might be repeated a couple of times. The treatment usually takes less than half an hour.

You might have period pain during and for a short time afterwards. And you may have some light vaginal bleeding which can last for up to 4 weeks. 

Cryotherapy for skin cancer.

Your doctor sprays liquid nitrogen on to the area of cancer. Or they put it directly on to the area with a cotton swab. The liquid freezes the area. After treatment the liquid nitrogen dissolves and the area thaws.

A scab forms in the area. Over the next month or so the scab falls off along with any dead cancer cells.

Side effects include:

  • pain
  • swelling and redness
  • blistering
  • infection, although this is uncommon

Rare and longer-term side effects might include scarring, numbness in the area and changes in skin colour, it may become either lighter or darker.

Having cryotherapy for cancer inside the body.

For cancers inside the body, a small probe is inserted next to or inside the tumor. This probe is called a cryoprobe. The cryoprobe is attached to a supply of liquid nitrogen controlled by the doctor. Your doctor or specialist nurse will talk to you beforehand about how you will have treatment and exactly what is involved.

There is a renewed HOPE , that there is light despite all of the darkness.

Published by Oliver Adeka

A human rights advocate, a lover of life, a care giver, a pharmacy practitioner augmented with patient safety.

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