Cryotherapy: An Emerging Treatment Option
Cancer treatments evolve constantly, and the medical community continues to develop new ways to treat the disease and achieve more-positive outcomes for more patients. One of these emerging therapies, cryotherapy, is commonly used by athletes as part of their training regimen. When applied to tumors and abnormal tissue, it can quickly and effectively destroy cancer cells. Today, cryotherapy for cancer offers yet another powerful treatment option for patients at Regional Cancer Care Associates.
Translating to “cold therapy,” cryotherapy uses liquid nitrogen to produce extremely frigid temperatures and eliminate abnormal tissue and cancer cells. Outside of cancer treatment, individuals usually enter a full-body cryotherapy chamber, where they stand in place for a designated period. But for patients with cancer, cryotherapy is applied to localized areas with special devices that freeze and destroy cancer cells.
External tumors are typically treated by applying liquid nitrogen directly via a cotton swab or spraying tool. After treatment, the frozen tissue forms into a scab and eventually heals. Patients with early-stage skin cancers, precancerous skin growths, and certain eye cancers can expect to undergo this form of cryotherapy.
By contrast, internal tumors are treated with a cryoprobe, a hollow tool that delivers liquid nitrogen to the location of the tumor through a small incision. During the treatment, doctors monitor which cells are being frozen via ultrasound or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), ensuring that healthy tissue in the treated area remains undamaged. Once cryotherapy is complete, the frozen cells thaw and are naturally disposed of by the body. This method is commonly used to treat:
- Bone cancer
- Prostate cancer
- Liver cancer that has not spread
- Localized Kaposi sarcoma related to AIDS
- Precancerous conditions in the cervix or breast
- And more
Benefits of Cryotherapy
Compared to other cancer treatments, cryotherapy offers many benefits. For one, it is much less invasive than other options and typically only requires local anesthesia. It’s also recommended for those who have not responded to other forms of treatment. Plus, side effects are typically minimal, and patients experience a shorter recovery time.
Also, cryotherapy can be considered for patients with inoperable cancers or other conditions that prohibit surgery. Cryotherapy for cancer also gives doctors more control over preserving the healthy tissue surrounding tumors. And for patients with bone cancers, cryotherapy carries less risk of permanent joint damage and reduces the need for amputation.
For men in the early stages of prostate cancer, cryotherapy may be one of the best available treatment options. It can be effective on tumors that have not spread beyond the prostate gland, as cryotherapy typically is successful in small, localized areas. Cryotherapy also is a viable treatment should the prostate cancer return.
Cryotherapy at RCCA
If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with cancer and wish to learn more about cryotherapy, the oncologists at Regional Cancer Care Associates can help. Cryotherapy for cancer is still in its infancy, but doctors and scientists continue to learn more about its benefits and how to best use this treatment.
No two cancers are the same, and only a comprehensive consultation with a skilled oncologist can determine which treatment is most appropriate for your needs. For more information, contact one of our 30 locations in Connecticut, Maryland, or New Jersey.