An alternative treatment to both radiation and surgery is cryotherapy. This procedure involves introducing a TRUS into the rectum to guide the urologist in the insertion of a number of thin metal rods through the perineum into the prostate. A catheter is then inserted into the urethra and filled with warming fluid. Liquid nitrogen is released into the rods and this serves to freeze the isolated areas of tissue that are in contact with the metal, killing the cancerous cells. The urethra is protected from the cold by the warming fluid circulating through the catheter.
Cryotherapy usually requires an inpatient stay of up to two days but there is very little blood loss and recovery time is only up to two weeks. The side effects include short-term urinary problems, possible injury to the rectum (and therefore problems with bowel function) and erectile dysfunction. There is a high probability of experiencing the latter of these side effects as the freezing process can kill the nerves that give the patient an erection. However, problems with impotency have been known to improve over time.
Cyrotherapy seems to have a higher success rate than any form of radiotherapy but if all of the cancer cells are not killed during the first treatment then the procedure will need to be repeated.