Cryosurgery uses sub-zero temperatures to freeze and destroy tumors. The tumor is not removed and the destroyed cancer is left to be reabsorbed by the body. At MD Anderson Cancer Center at Cooper, cryosurgery may be used to treat tumors in the kidneys or the prostate.

Understanding the treatment

Cryosurgery involves the placement of a stainless steel device (probe) into the center of the tumor where it circulates a chemical that is extremely cold (liquid nitrogen). A special type of ultrasound imaging helps the physician guide the probe into place. The tumor and a portion of healthy tissue are frozen. The area is then thawed and then re-frozen. After the tumor has thawed again, the probe is removed. The treatment may often require a short hospital stay.

Indications for the treatment

Cryosurgery may be used as a primary treatment when cancer is confined to a specific place in the body and is in its early stages with a low risk for spreading, or other situations deemed appropriate by the care team.