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NCI Dictionary of Cancer Terms


cryotherapy  listen  (KRY-oh-THAYR-uh-pee)

  A procedure in which an extremely cold liquid or an instrument called a cryoprobe is used to freeze and destroy abnormal tissue. A cryoprobe is cooled with substances such as liquid nitrogen, liquid nitrous oxide, or compressed argon gas. Cryotherapy may be used to treat certain types of cancer and some conditions that may become cancer. Also called cryoablation and cryosurgery.

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Cryosurgery; drawing shows an instrument with a nozzle held over an abnormal area on the lower arm of a patient. Inset shows a spray of liquid nitrogen or liquid carbon dioxide coming from the nozzle and covering the abnormal lesion. Freezing destroys the lesion.