Update on cryotherapy for prostate cancer in 2006

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Purpose of review

With the recent introduction of novel, minimally invasive procedures for the treatment of prostate cancer, cryotherapy has become a feasible option as a viable alternative to traditional radical surgery and radiation therapy. In this review we update recent data concerning the basic science of cryobiology, technical trends, oncologic results and complications of this procedure.

Recent findings

As a result of better understanding of tumor cryodestruction at a molecular level, refinements in cryotechniques and improved patient selection, the results of cryotherapy are becoming more promising. Furthermore, the dramatic decrease in the number of complications after modern cryotherapy leads to a better quality of life, which may be a preferable option, especially for elderly patients with comorbidities. Current trends towards nerve-sparing and focal cryoablation are also discussed. Recent advances in cryobiology open up new opportunities to apply cryotherapy in combination with chemotherapy or radiotherapy for patients with intermediate or high-risk cancers.


Potential directions for future developments in cryosurgery include concepts to reduce side effects such as minimizing cryodamage of the neurovascular bundles (nerve-sparing procedure), and focal ablation of a specific tumor site in patients in whom saturation biopsy supports unifocal prostate cancer.

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