Focal cryotherapy for clinically unilateral, low-intermediate risk prostate cancer in 73 men with a median follow-up of 3.7 years

Eur Urol. 2012 Jul;62(1):55-63. doi: 10.1016/j.eururo.2012.03.006. Epub 2012 Mar 21.


Background: Evolution of cryotherapy for prostate cancer is likely to result in parenchyma-sparing modifications adjacent to the urethra and neurovascular bundle. Results of initial series of focal therapy to minimize cryosurgery-related morbidity without compromising oncologic control have been encouraging, but limited in short-term outcomes.

Objective: To retrospectively report (1) median 3.7-yr follow-up experience of primary focal cryotherapy for clinically unilateral prostate cancer with oncologic and functional outcomes, and (2) matched-pair analysis with contemporaneous patients undergoing radical prostatectomy (RP).

Design, setting, and participants: Over 8.5 yr (September 2002 to March 2011), focal cryoablation (defined as ablation of one lobe) was performed in 73 carefully selected patients with biopsy-proven, clinically unilateral, low-intermediate risk prostate cancer. All patients underwent transrectal ultrasound (TRUS) and Doppler-guided sextant and targeted biopsies at entry.

Outcome measurements and statistical analysis: Post-therapy follow-up included measuring prostate-specific antigen (PSA) level every 3-6 mo; TRUS biopsies at 6-12 mo and yearly, as indicated; and validated symptom questionnaires. Matched-pair analysis compared oncologic outcomes of focal cryotherapy and RP (matched for age, PSA, clinical stage, and biopsy Gleason score).

Results and limitations: Complete follow-up was available in 70 patients (median follow-up: 3.7 yr; range: 1-8.5 yr). No patient died or developed metastases. Precryotherapy mean PSA was 5.9 ng/ml and Gleason score was 6 (n=30) or 7 (n=43). Postcryotherapy mean PSA was 1.6 ng/ml (70% reduction compared to precryotherapy; p<0.001). Of 48 patients undergoing postcryotherapy biopsy, 36 (75%) had negative biopsies; positive biopsy for cancer (n=12) occurred in the untreated contralateral (n=11) or treated ipsilateral lobe (n=1). Complete continence (no pads) and potency sufficient for intercourse were documented in 100% and 86% of patients, respectively. Matched-pair comparison of focal cryotherapy and RP revealed similar oncologic outcome, defined as needing salvage treatment.

Conclusions: Primary focal cryoablation for low-intermediate risk unilateral cancer affords encouraging oncologic and functional outcomes over a median 3.7-yr follow-up. Close surveillance with follow-up whole-gland biopsies is mandatory.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Biopsy
  • Carcinoma / diagnostic imaging
  • Carcinoma / pathology
  • Carcinoma / surgery
  • Carcinoma / therapy*
  • Cryotherapy / methods*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Neoplasm Grading
  • Prostate-Specific Antigen / blood
  • Prostatectomy / methods
  • Prostatic Neoplasms / diagnostic imaging
  • Prostatic Neoplasms / pathology
  • Prostatic Neoplasms / surgery
  • Prostatic Neoplasms / therapy*
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Risk
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Ultrasonography


  • Prostate-Specific Antigen