BACKGROUND/AIM: Patients with locally recurrent prostate cancer after primary radiotherapy can be eligible for salvage treatment. Whole-gland salvage techniques carry a high risk of toxicity. A focal salvage approach might reduce the risk of adverse events while maintaining cancer control in carefully selected patients. The aim of this review was to evaluate current literature to assess whether focal salvage leads to a comparable or favourable recurrence rate and less toxicity compared to whole-gland salvage. METHODS: A literature search was performed using PubMed, Embase and the Cochrane Library. A total of 3015 articles were screened and assessed for quality. Eight papers [on focal cryoablation (n = 3), brachytherapy (n = 3) and high-intensity focused ultrasound (n = 2)] were used to report outcomes. RESULTS: One-, 2-, 3- and 5-year biochemical disease-free survival (BDFS) ranges for focal salvage are, respectively, 69-100, 49-100, 50-91 and 46.5-54.5 %. Severe genitourinary, gastrointestinal and sexual function toxicity rates are 0-33.3 %. One study directly compares focal to whole-gland salvage cryotherapy, showing 5-year BDFS of, respectively, 54.4 and 86.5 % with lower toxicity rates for focal salvage patients. CONCLUSION: Provisional data suggest that BDFS rates of focal salvage are in line with those of whole-gland approaches. There is evidence that focal salvage could decrease severe toxicity and preserve erectile function.