Candidates: Used mainly as a secondary treatment for men who have had radiation treatment, whose cancer has recurred but not spread beyond the prostate. Not useful for men with large prostates.

Chances of cure: Insufficient data.

Convenience: Done under anesthesia, usually with overnight hospital stay. Man usually off work for two weeks.

Sexual side effects: Impotence very common, up to 90 percent.

Urinary side effects: Incontinence approximately 10 percent.

Bowel side effects: Low incidence of injury to rectal wall, including fistula, which can be difficult to repair.

Other side effects: None.

Follow-up treatment if needed: Surgical treatment extremely difficult, other options open. Cryotherapy can be repeated multiple times.

Uncertainties: Whether all cancer cells have been killed, especially those close to the urethra.

Unknowns: Long-term effectiveness; chances that the cancer has already spread beyond the prostate.

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