Active surveillance, radical prostatectomy, and radiation therapy are well known strategies to manage and treat prostate cancer. This brief overview takes a look at two treatments that are not as familiar: cryotherapy and high-intensity focused ultrasound (HIFU).
Cryotherapy. Also known as cryoablation or cryosurgery, cryotherapy is a treatment that kills cancer cells by freezing them. In the procedure, thin needles (cryoprobes) are inserted through the perineum (the area between the scrotum and anus) and into the prostate. Needle placement is guided with an ultrasound probe placed in the rectum. Freezing gases drop the temperature of the cryoprobes to about -40C. The extremely low temperatures create ice balls that freeze the entire prostate and some of the nearby tissue. Warm saline is circulated through the urethra and bladder to protect them from the freezing temperatures.
HIFU. This is a relatively new technique whereby sound waves are directed at the prostate using a probe placed in the rectum. The directed sound waves heat the prostate to a high temperature, destroying cancerous tissue.
Potential candidates. Both cryotherapy and HIFU may be reasonable options for some men whose cancer is contained within the prostate, and they are sometimes used when radiation therapy has failed to destroy the cancer. It’s important to note that neither option has been as well studied as other forms of treatment.