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Eur Urol. 2009 Jan;55(1):76-86. doi: 10.1016/j.eururo.2008.08.063. Epub 2008 Sep 2.

Cryosurgery for prostate cancer: an update on clinical results of modern cryotechnology.

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  • 1Department of Urology, Canisius Wilhelmina Hospital, Nijmegen, The Netherlands.



Cryosurgery is an evolving treatment for localized prostate cancer in European centers. Modern cryotechnology is associated with a low complication rate, but its definitive role in the spectrum of different treatment modalities remains to be determined.


The primary objective of this review is to analyze the oncological results and complication rates of modern cryosurgery for prostate cancer. Secondarily, the impact of patient selection and the criteria for treatment success are discussed.


A structured literature review was performed by an online Pubmed search for data of primary and salvage cryosurgery of the prostate. Papers with relevant information on clinical outcome and complication rates were selected.


The introduction of gas-based third-generation cryotechnology has significantly decreased side effects with similar oncological results compared to older techniques. The occurrence of severe complications like rectourethral fistulas (<1%) has almost been eradicated, but the rates of erectile dysfunction remain high (90%). With salvage cryosurgery more side effects can be expected with an average incontinence rate of 8% and fistulas up to 3.4%. Nevertheless, this minimal invasive treatment remains an option for radiorecurrent prostate cancer. Focal cryosurgery is considered experimental, but is an interesting new development in cryosurgery. The intermediate-term biochemical disease free survival rates of 60%-90% are comparable to the results of other treatment modalities. However, the current data of cryosurgery in literature are of low-level evidence which should be discussed when counselling patients.


Modern cryosurgery is reliable and results are promising with minimal morbidity. Focal cryosurgery in selected patients aims to reduce side effects, but is currently experimental treatment. Randomized trials comparing the outcomes of the different treatment modalities and long-term follow-up data are needed to define the ultimate role of cryosurgery in the treatment of localized prostate cancer.

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