Surgery is a common choice to try to cure prostate cancer if it is not thought to have spread outside the prostate gland.
The main type of surgery for prostate cancer is a radical prostatectomy. In this operation, the surgeon removes the entire prostate gland plus some of the tissue around it, including the seminal vesicles. A radical prostatectomy can be done in different ways.
Transurethral resection of the prostate (TURP)
This operation is more often used to treat men with non-cancerous enlargement of the prostate called benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH). But it is also sometimes used in men with advanced prostate cancer to help relieve symptoms, such as urination problems. (It is not used to try to cure the cancer.)
During this operation, the surgeon removes the inner part of the prostate gland that surrounds the urethra (the tube through which urine exits the bladder). The skin is not cut with this surgery. An instrument called a resectoscope is passed through the tip of the penis into the urethra to the level of the prostate. Once it is in place, either electricity is passed through a wire to heat it or a laser is used to cut or vaporize the tissue. Spinal anesthesia (which numbs the lower half of your body) or general anesthesia (where you are asleep) is used.
The operation usually takes about an hour. After surgery, a catheter (thin, flexible tube) is inserted through the penis and into the bladder. It remains in place for about a day to help urine drain while the prostate heals. You can usually leave the hospital after 1 to 2 days and return to normal activities in 1 to 2 weeks.
You will probably have some blood in your urine after surgery. Other possible side effects from TURP include infection and any risks that come with the type of anesthesia used.
Last Medical Review: 02/16/2016
Last Revised: 03/11/2016
Open approaches to radical prostatectomy
In the more traditional approach to doing a prostatectomy, the surgeon operates through a single long skin incision to remove the prostate and nearby tissues. This type of surgery, sometimes referred to as an open approach, is now done less often than in the past.
There are 2 main ways to do this operation.
Laparoscopic approaches to radical prostatectomy
Laparoscopic approaches use several smaller incisions and special long surgical tools to remove the prostate. The surgeon either holds the tools directly, or uses a control panel to precisely move robotic arms that hold the tools. This approach to prostatectomy has become more common in recent years.
If you are thinking about treatment with laparoscopic surgery, it’s important to understand what is known and what is not yet known about this approach. The most important factors are likely to be the skill and experience of your surgeon. If you decide that laparoscopic surgery is the right treatment for you, be sure to find a surgeon with a lot of experience.