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Cryotherapy is also called cryosurgery or cryoablation is a minimally invasive therapy. This type of treatment removes damaged or diseased tissue that comes from a variety of medical conditions. This treatment uses intense cold to freeze and destroy cancer cells and abnormal tissue. For this, liquid nitrogen or argon gas is applied. Cryotherapy is a type of local treatment. That is, it is used to treat a specific place on the body. Cryotherapy is used to treat skin tumors, as well as some tumors inside the body.


Cryotherapy is usually done without open surgery. Most people recover quickly from the procedure and with little pain. Your provider might recommend cryotherapy for:

How is cryotherapy used to treat cancer?

With cryotherapy, the tissue is frozen to destroy the treated cells.

For skin tumors, the doctor applies liquid nitrogen to the abnormal area with a swab or spray.

For tumors inside the body, an instrument called a cryoprobe is used to freeze the tumor tissue. The cryoprobe is inserted into the body during surgery or through a small incision in the skin. Using the cryoprobe, the doctor directly applies liquid nitrogen or argon gas to the tumor.


During this procedure, the doctor is guided by ultrasound or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to place the cryoprobe in the correct site and limit damage to healthy tissue surrounding the tumor. In some cases, more than one cryoprobe is used to freeze different parts of the tumor.

As the frozen tissue melts, the cells are destroyed. Tumors that freeze inside the body are reabsorbed. Tumors that freeze into the skin form a scale that falls off as the skin heals.

It is possible to combine cryotherapy with other cancer treatments such as hormone therapy , chemotherapy , immunotherapy , radiotherapy or conventional surgery. For example, after a primary bone tumor is removed, the remaining tissue may be treated with cryotherapy to decrease the risk of the tumor coming back.

Risks & Benefits

The risks of cryotherapy are small, but complications can occur. These complications may include:

  • Bleeding, cramping or pain after cryotherapy around the cervix.
  • Bone fractures.
  • Nerve damage resulting in loss of feeling.
  • Swelling, scarring and skin infection.

Cryotherapy has many benefits.

  • For tumors inside the body, usually only a small cut or puncture is needed to insert the cryoprobe through the skin. This avoids some problems that surgery has, such as pain and bleeding.
  • Cryotherapy is often done under local anesthesia and does not require hospitalization.
  • Because cryotherapy is a local treatment and doctors focus on treating an exact area, damage to nearby healthy tissue is limited.
  • It is possible to repeat cryotherapy without problems and use it with other cancer treatments.
  • Cryotherapy is used when surgery is not possible due to the type of tumor, age, or other health problems the person has.
  • Cryotherapy may be an option when the cancer does not respond to standard treatment .

Recovery & Outcome

Healthcare providers successfully treat many problems with cryotherapy. Most skin conditions treated with cryotherapy do not require any special care after treatment.

Some people who have internal cryotherapy need to limit their activity for a few days after the procedure. Your provider will let you know when you can return to your regular routine. You may need more than one cryotherapy treatment to remove all the abnormal tissue.

Consult your Physician :

Contact your healthcare provider if you have signs of an infection after cryotherapy. These signs may include:

  • Redness.
  • Pus.
  • Unexplained fever.

You should also see your provider if you still notice a skin issue after you heal from cryotherapy.

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