Cryotherapy Treatment for Cancer

Cancer is a distressing problem world-wide, affecting billions of people across the world in different body parts. Cryotherapy, also called as cryosurgery, is a commonly used procedure for treatment of various benign & malignant lesions. ‘Cryo’ signifies a form involving or generating extreme cold. Method of destruction in cryotherapy is necrosis, which fundamentally results from freezing & defrosting of cells. This treatment is performed through localized freezing for treating specific regions of various dreadful cancers, like prostate cancer. Every year, more than 2 billion patients are diagnosed with prostate cancer. According to recent health reports, cryotherapy is the most successful procedure which is being used for treating prostate cancers. It may also be used for various skin conditions as well as harmful tumors within the kidneys, lungs, liver, bones & breasts. Adverse effects of cryotherapy are generally minor & short-lived.

What is Cryotherapy?

Cryotherapy is also referred to as percutaneous cryotherapy & is a minimally invasive treatment that uses extreme cold to freeze and destroy diseased tissue in human body, including cancerous cells. In cryotherapy, high pressure argon gas or liquid nitrogen flows into a needle-like applicator known as a cryoprobe creating extreme cold for killing diseased tissue. Oncologists use certain image-guidance methods like computed tomography (CT), ultrasound or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to help guide cryoprobes towards treatment sites located inside the patient’s body.

Various Cancers Treated with Cryotherapy Procedure

Cryotherapy can be effectively applied on skin surface (topically), either percutaneously or surgically. Topical cryotherapy is used generally in cases with eye & skin lesions. When the lesion is located below the surface of skin, an applicator needs to be placed through the patient’s skin. Occasionally, a surgical incision is also needed. Cryotherapy is used to treat following cancers.

  • Skin Cancer & Skin Tumor – Skin of patients is numbed with a local anesthetic & liquid nitrogen is sprayed onto the cancer & surrounding tissue. Harmful cancerous cells are destroyed in this way.
  • Cervical Cancer – Liquid nitrogen is applied to cervix which is the lowest part of uterus or womb, to destroy precancerous cells. When harmful & unhealthy cells are destroyed, patient’s body can replace them with healthy new cells.
  • Pre-Cancerous Skin Moles & Skin Tags – Pre-cancerous skin moles, as well as skin tags in most of patients can be effectively destroyed with cryotherapy.
  • Retinoblastomas – It is a cancer of the retina. Cryotherapy can be used for killing unhealthy cells in the retina (eye region).
  • Prostate Cancer – Cryotherapy uses intensely cold temperatures to frost & destroy malicious cancerous tissue in patient’s prostate region.

Problematic tissues in the body of patients can be killed with this procedure. In majority of cancer’s cases, it is not the first mechanism of defense. However, it can be considered when other types of treatment have proven ineffective & unsuccessful, especially when cancer has returned following other procedures.

Preparing for Cryotherapy

During initial consultation, oncologists will provide detailed information about cryotherapy to patients.

  • Skin Treatment – For skin treatment, some oncologists suggest taking ibuprofen, half-hour before cryotherapy to relieve mild pain & discomfort, while others give a dose of antibiotics prior to cryotherapy as a way to prevent infection. For treatments involving tumors, patients should not take blood thinning medicines for a suggested span of time prior to undergoing cryotherapy.
  • Medications – Patients should report to oncologists about all medications that they are currently consuming, including any additional herbal supplements.
  • Allergies – In case patients have any specific allergies, especially to local anesthetic medications, general anesthesia or to x-ray dyes, they should let the surgeon know. Oncologists may suggest that patients stop taking aspirin, blood thinners or anti-inflammatory drugs for a specified span before undergoing cryotherapy.
  • Pregnancy – Women should strictly inform the oncologist & x-ray technologist if they are pregnant. Several imaging tests are not done during the phase of pregnancy in order to not expose the baby to harmful radiation. If an x-ray is required, oncologists will take precautions to minimize radiation exposure to the baby.
  • Hospital Stay – Some doctors suggest a short, overnight stay at the hospital following cryotherapy of deep tumors. Patients should plan to have a friend or relative drive them home after completion of the procedure. Patients may also be told to wear a gown during their cryotherapy procedure.

Questions to Ask Oncologists about Cryotherapy Procedure

Patients have the right to understand the complete procedure of cryotherapy before deciding to undergo. Patients may ask the following relevant questions to oncologists prior to cryotherapy.

  • Is the type of cancer I have treatable with cryotherapy?
  • Should I continue using current supplements of minerals, vitamins, etc?
  • Can you suggest colleagues for a second opinion?
  • Will I be in pain after cryotherapy? Are there any medications that can ease my discomfort?
  • Are there any risks & complications associated with cryotherapy?
  • Is cryotherapy an effective & successful procedure?
  • What are the chances that cryotherapy procedure will work for me, for the type of cancer I have?
  • Will I be able to live a healthy life after undergoing cryotherapy procedure?
  • What lifestyle changes will I require to make to improve the result of cryotherapy & protect my body during the procedure?

After completely understanding every aspect of cryotherapy, patients should take a firm decision whether to undergo this procedure or not.

How Cryotherapy Works

Cryotherapy uses argon gas or nitrogen to create highly cold temperatures to destroy problematic tissue.

  • Outside Tissues – For destroying the diseased tissue present outside the body of patients, liquid nitrogen is sprayed directly with a cotton swab or spray device.
  • Deeper Tissues – For tumors present deep below the skin surface in the patient’s body, oncologists will use image-guidance to plant one or more applicators through skin to the definite site & then transport the liquid nitrogen or argon gas.

Any healthy, living tissue or diseased cannot withstand acutely cold environment & will die from the following.

  • Formation of ice in the fluid outside cells, which may result in dehydration.
  • Formation of ice within the cell. At -40°F or less, ice crystals start to form & are capable of destroying almost any cell.
  • Bursting from shrinking caused by water exiting the cell or swelling caused by expansion of ice inside the cell.
  • When cells die their blood supply is blocked by ice forming within tiny tumor blood vessels, resulting in clotting of blood. As cryotherapy consists of a series of significant steps that lead to death of cells, tumors are repeatedly frozen & unfrosted; generally, two or more freeze-melt cycles are done.

Once troublesome cells are destroyed, new white blood cells start working to clear out the dead tissue.

Cryotherapy Procedure

Cryotherapy is a percutaneous image-guided procedure which is most often executed by a specially trained doctor in the hospital room.

  • Topical Cryotherapy – When topical cryotherapy is executed, doctors will apply liquid nitrogen directly to the region directly.
  • Deep Cryotherapy – For tumors deep inside the patient’s body that can be reached through the skin, doctors will perform a percutaneous procedure & infix cryoprobes.
  • Monitoring – Patients may be linked to monitors that track blood pressure, heart rate & pulse during cryotherapy procedure.
  • Intravenous Line – A nurse will insert an intravenous line (IV line) into a vein in the patient’s arm or hand so that sedative medicines can be provided intravenously. Mild sedation may be used or sometimes patients may receive general anesthesia as well.
  • Insertion of Cryoprobe – The specific region where cryoprobes are to be inserted will be properly shaved, completely cleaned & covered appropriately with a sterile drape. A tiny skin incision is made & using imaging guidance, the oncologist will insert one or more cryoprobes through the skin & liquid nitrogen or argon gas is subsequently delivered.
  • Multiple Applicators – Certain tumors need multiple applicators to freeze entirely. For the condition of prostate cancer, seven to eight cryoprobes are inserted through the perineum with help of ultrasound guidance.
  • Completion – At the end, these applicators are pulled off & appropriate pressure will be given so as to stop any bleeding. Skin opening is covered with a clean bandage. Generally, no sutures are required. Patient’s IV line will be taken off. Whole procedure is normally completed within two to three hours of time.

Recovery Following Cryotherapy Procedure

After most cryotherapy procedures, patients can go home the very day. However, patients may be asked to stay in the hospital for a couple of days if cryotherapy was performed on patient’s internal organ. Patients will need to properly care for the incision wounds or parts where the skin has been frozen after cryotherapy. Instructions will be given to patients before they leave the hospital. Care generally involves keeping the specific region free of contaminants & altering the bandages to prevent any infection. Patients will have follow-up appointments during which oncologists will decide how successful cryotherapy treatment was & in case they observe any complications, whether the case requires more cryotherapy. Healthy recovery following cryotherapy however depends upon positively following instructions of oncologists.

Risks & Complications Associated with Cryosurgery

Cryotherapy is an alternative solution to cancer treatment when surgical elimination of a tumor is difficult or for some patients, not possible at all. However, long-term effectiveness of cryotherapy is still being evaluated. Like any other surgical procedure, various complications like bleeding may result from freezing & puncture of tissues. Apart from this, severe damage to normal structures is also possible.

  • Liver Cryotherapy – While undergoing liver cryotherapy, the bile ducts of patients may get severely injured.
  • Kidney Cryotherapy – During the procedure of kidney cryotherapy, ureter or collecting system of the patient may get seriously damaged.
  • Prostate Cryotherapy – The rectum of patients can be damaged during the process of prostate cryotherapy.
  • Damage to Bowel – Any treatment of abdomen can result in damaging the bowel & cause a gap or hole in the bowel, which may discharge bowel matters into the abdomen area that can head towards a potential life-threatening infection.
  • Lungs Related Problem – When freezing happens near the diaphragm region, fluid can gather in the space near the lungs. There may be a possibility of collapsing of lung sometimes in such cases.
  • Nerve Damage – Nerve damage can also occur. Entirely frozen nerves can cause motor numbness or weakness in the region supplied by nerves.
  • Adverse Reaction of Anesthesia – Complications due to certain medications including anesthesia, managed during the cryotherapy procedure may happen.
  • Permanent Impotence – This condition can also occur since nerves controlling sexual potency are generally involved in the freezing process during prostate cryotherapy. However, nerves are also able to regenerate, dissolving the problem in various patients.

These complications can be minimized by taking proper precautions & after-care. Patients should talk to the oncologist for precise guidance.

Cryotherapy Outcomes

Recovery time following cryosurgery procedure is generally less. For percutaneous cryotherapy, patients may have to stay overnight or they may be discharged several hours after completion of the procedure. As observed with other treatments, overnight stays for pain control after cryotherapy are usually not required. Percutaneous cryotherapy is moderately traumatic than open surgery since it requires only a tiny incision to insert cryoprobe through patient’s skin, which restricts damage to healthy tissue in that area. Patients generally can easily resume daily routine activities within 24 hours aftercryotherapy procedure without any discomfort. Success rate of cryotherapy procedure is generally high. Patients must however obey all guidelines given by the surgeon in order to maintain a healthy state & avoid any complications.

Medical Tourism in India for Best Cryotherapy Procedure

India is a globally admired destination for all kinds of cancer treatments & surgeries right from traditional to minimal invasive & robotic surgeries. Indian multi-speciality hospitals & healthcare provisions are equipped with latest computerized medical devices as well as state-of-art technology which makes this country the top-most global medical tourism destination. There are a number of premium internationally accredited hospitals in India which provide the best cryotherapy treatments to international patients. Cryotherapy procedures along with post-operative care costs are also very economical in India. Moreover, oncologists in India are highly skillful in performing cryotherapy. Medical professionals in India are extremely compassionate & attend patients round the clock & keep check of all health needs of patients.

Affordable Cryotherapy with Travcure Medical Tourism

Travcure medical tourism is a leading healthcare facilitator in India. Travcure offers outstanding medical procedures & cost-effective cryotherapy packages from top cancer specialist hospitals in India. Travcure consultants ensure that international patients receive high-quality, transparent, smooth & hassle-free cancer treatments & services in India. In addition to this, they also provide rejuvenation packages to overseas patients in order to facilitate calm recovery of both, body & mind following cryotherapy procedures.

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