Cryosurgery is the use of extreme cold to destroy abnormal tissue cells through the use of liquid nitrogen spray that is applied onto the skin to make it freeze and through that destroys the defect tissue. Cryosurgery is used to treat external tumours on the skin. Cryosurgery may also be used to treat tumours inside the body.
Types of cancer treated with Cryosurgery
Cryosurgery is used as a treatment for several types of cancer. It is effective on prostate and liver tumours, precancerous conditions of the cervix, early stages of skin cancers and precancerous skin growths known as actinic keratosis. It can also be effective on noncancerous conditions, such as large “freckles” (age or liver spots) that develop on sun-exposed areas. For internal use, liquid nitrogen or argon gas is circulated through a hollow instrument called a cryophrobe, placed in contact to the tumour. To guide the cryophrobe, the doctor uses ultrasound. When the Cryophrobe is moved around the malign area, it freezes the nearby cells. After the surgery, the frozen tissue thaws and is either naturally absorbed by the body (for internal tumours), or it dissolves and forms a scab (for external tumours).
Complications with Cryosurgery
When used on skin cancer, cryosurgery may cause scarring and swelling.
If nerves are damaged, loss of sensation may occur.
Loss of pigmentation and hair in the treated area.
A possibility for destruction of tissue in the nearby area.
Advantages with Cryosurgery
Less invasive than surgery.
Less expensive than other similar treatments.
Requires shorter recovery time and hospital stay.
The treatment can be safely repeated.
May offer an option for treating cancers that are considered inoperable or that do not respond to standard treatments.
Can be used on patients who are not good candidates for conventional surgery because of age or medical conditions.