What are the side effects of Prostate Cryotherapy?
One of the benefits of cryotherapy is the lack of side effects, especially compared to the surgical removal of the prostate or delivering radiation to it. Below are the most common potential side effects of prostate cryotherapy. Be sure to discuss these, as well as other potential side effects, with a physician experienced in cryotherapy.
The most common side effect of prostate cryotherapy is impotency (failure to achieve an erection sustainable for intercourse). Because the goal of prostate cryotherapy is to encase the prostate in lethal ice, the ability to form and maintain erections after treatment may be impacted. Approximately 50-85% of men have their potency affected following cryotherapy. Take this into consideration when considering your treatment options.
Many patients have had success regaining erections through what is called penile rehabilitation, which combines medication (i.e. Viagra®) and a vacuum device. By combining these therapies, close to 50% of men have been able to regain potency after two years.
In most prostate cancer treatments, incontinence is caused when the external sphincter (a valve near the bladder) is damaged. The incontinence (urinary leakage) rate for cryotherapy is very low compared to other prostate cancer treatments due to the constant monitoring of the temperature near the external sphincter during the procedure. Recent studies report that only 1-3% of men have urinary incontinence after prostate cryotherapy when used as a first treatment.
If you are having prostate cryotherapy for recurrent prostate cancer after failing radiation therapy, the risk of incontinence is slightly increased (2-4%), yet the cure rate is still significant.