Frequently asked questions
What is cryotherapy?
Cryotherapy is a minimally invasive procedure that destroys (or ablates [a-BLATES]) cancerous cells by delivering freezing temperatures of minus 40° Celsius to the prostate. This lethal freeze immediately destroys cancerous cells by:
- Causing membrane damage
- Cutting off the oxygen supply1
Is cryotherapy an established treatment option?
Yes. Modern cryotherapy has been performed on thousands of patients by hundreds of doctors nationwide since the late 1990s.
How is cryotherapy different from other treatments?
- Cryotherapy is minimally invasive.2
- It is usually an outpatient procedure.
- It is designed to preserve the urethra, which is linked to urinary control.3
- It is repeatable in case prostate cancer comes back.4
If I already have had radiation therapy, can I receive cryotherapy treatment?
For men whose cancer returns after radiation therapy, cryotherapy can be used as a second (or salvage) treatment, as long as the cancer hasn’t spread beyond the prostate.
Will cryotherapy get rid of my cancer?
Cryotherapy is designed to destroy the cancer cells immediately at the time of the procedure. Cryotherapy has shown biochemical disease-free survival in 92% of low-risk patients, 89% of medium-risk patients, and 89% of high-risk patients.* Biochemical disease-free survival means that, after a prostate cancer treatment, a patient's PSA level does not rise a certain amount over a specific time period. One thing to remember is that the definition of biochemical disease-free survival can vary from one study to another.2
As with any cancer, there is a possibility that prostate cancer may return after treatment, or that cancer may spread outside the prostate. For this reason, it is extremely important to be regularly examined by your doctor following the procedure to be sure the cancer has not returned or spread.
How affordable is cryotherapy?
The procedure is typically performed on an outpatient basis, making it accessible and often less expensive than other prostate cancer treatment options. It is also covered by Medicare, as well as most insurance plans and United States Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) hospitals.
Click here to find out if you’re covered or to speak to an Endocare® Reimbursement Specialist.
What kind of doctor can perform cryotherapy?
If you have recently been diagnosed with prostate cancer, you may be under the care of your primary care doctor, or you may have already been referred to a urologist. But not all urologists that treat prostate cancer offer cryotherapy. Discuss cryotherapy with your primary care doctor and ask for a referral to a urologist who is trained in cryotherapy.
You can also use our physician finder to locate a urologist who is trained in performing cryotherapy with the Endocare® System near you.Helpful links can lead you to more information and support to help you on your treatment journey
*Using the American Society for Therapeutic Radiology and Oncology (ASTRO) definition.
- Babaian RJ, Donnelly B, Bahn D, et al. Best practice statement on cryosurgery for the treatment of localized prostate cancer. J Urol. 2008;180(5):1993-2004.
- Bahn DK, Lee F, Badalament R, et al. Targeted cryoablation of the prostate: 7-year outcomes in the primary treatment of prostate cancer. Urology. 2002;60(2 Suppl 1):3-11.
- Katz AE, Rewcastle JC. The current and potential role of cryoablation as a primary therapy for localized prostate cancer. Curr Oncol Rep. 2003;5(3):231-8.
- American Urological Association Foundation. Cryoablation for prostate cancer. www.urologyhealth.org/urology/index.cfm?article=108. Accessed August 28, 2012.