Efficacy, safety, acceptability and affordability of cryotherapy: a review of current literature

Minerva Ginecol. 2012 Apr;64(2):149-71.


As a result of widespread screening and treatment programs, the incidence of cervical cancer has decreased by as much as 75% in the developed world. Commonly used treatment modalities for precancerous lesions include cone biopsy, the Loop Electrosurgical Excision Procedure (LEEP), laser ablation and cryotherapy. In recent years LEEP has replaced cryotherapy as a commonly provided outpatient procedure in many places; however increased awareness of the burden of cervical cancer in the developing world and increased awareness of long term consequences of LEEP ‑ such as cervical insufficiency ‑ have renewed interest in cryotherapy. We reviewed current literature addressing the technique, efficacy, safety and acceptability of cryotherapy, as well as special topics such as cost effectiveness, HIV, and low resource settings. Among studies we reviewed, cure rates ranged from 56.8-96.6% among prospective controlled trials and from 70-95.5% among observational studies. Cryotherapy has very low complication rates and serious complications requiring medical intervention or affecting future reproductive outcomes are extremely rare. Side effects including vaginal discharge and cramping are temporary, generally self-limited, and well tolerated after anticipatory patient counseling. When surveyed, women find cryotherapy highly acceptable. Compared to other treatment modalities, cryotherapy is very affordable and feasible to integrate into cervical cancer screening and treatment programs.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Controlled Clinical Trials as Topic
  • Cryotherapy* / economics
  • Cryotherapy* / methods
  • Developing Countries
  • Evidence-Based Medicine
  • Feasibility Studies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Patient Acceptance of Health Care*
  • Patient Safety*
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Uterine Cervical Neoplasms / therapy*