Cryosurgery

What conventional cancer treatment has fewer side effects, is less expensive, and requires a shorter recovery time?

Cryosurgery, or cryotherapy, is the use of liquid nitrogen to destroy cancer by applying directly to affected cells with cotton or a spary and freezing them (1). The frozen tissue then thaws and is absorbed by the body or dissolves and forms a scab (1). There is only limited damage to other cells (1) unlike chemotherapy, and there is less irritative and obstructive voiding symptoms in comparison to brachytherapy (2).

The treatment is used in several cancers including liver cancers that have not spread, bone tumors, retinoblastoma, early-stage skin cancers and precancerous skin growths and conditions of the cervix (1). Its currently being evaluated for breast, colon and kidney cancers (1). And it may be useful in conjunction with other treatments (1).

References
1. National Cancer Institute. Available at: http://www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/factsheet/Therapy/cryosurgery.
2. Hubosky SG, Fabrizio MD, Schellhammer PF, Barone BB, Tepera CM, Given RW. Single center experience with third-generation cryosurgery for management of organ-confined prostate cancer: critical evaluation of short-term outcomes, complications, and patient quality of life. J Endourol 2007;21:1521-31.

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