Prostate Cancer Surgery Options

The prostate gland is responsible for secreting approximately 30 percent of the semen in which sperm are ejaculated. The removal of the prostate gland is a delicate procedure because it is located near nerves that control the ability to ejaculate and urinate. You and your surgeon have several choices for surgical treatment based on the size, growth rate and location of your tumor.

Open Retropubic Prostatectomy

During an open retropubic prostatectomy, the surgeon makes an incision in the lower abdomen to remove the prostate gland. According to Family Doctor, the physician removes the gland and nearby lymph nodes. Once the surgery is finished, you will awaken with a catheter in your penis to allow urine to drain. This catheter is left in place for 2 to 3 weeks to permit the area to heal properly. Most men regain bladder control between a few weeks and several months after the surgery.

Minimally Invasive Laparoscopic Prostatectomy

The first minimally invasive prostate cancer surgery method developed was the laparoscopic procedure. According to Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, the surgeon will make some small incisions in the abdominal wall and insert a lit camera scope with other surgical instruments. The camera projects a high definition image of the area and the instruments are manipulated to allow removal of the prostate and nearby lymph nodes. Robotic laparoscopy prostatectomy is a relatively new minimally invasive procedure that is also nerve sparing. University of California Los Angeles physicians offer this procedure as an option only when you have early stage, localized prostate cancer. Robotic arms that are controlled by the surgeon at a computer console perform the entire process. The instruments used are flexible and movement is much like the human wrist. A normal laparoscopy gives the surgeon a 2-dimensional view, while the robotic surgical procedure allows the surgeon to “see” the operation from a console in 3 dimensions. The procedure appears to preserve better sexual and urinary function and has shorter hospital stays and recovery times.

Transurethral Resection of the Prostate

This procedure is also abbreviated TURP and is performed using an endoscope inserted through the urethra. According to the National Cancer Institute, the procedure is done to relieve the symptoms that are caused by a prostate tumor, often before any other cancer treatment is done. This procedure is also used as the final treatment when you are too old or medically unstable to undergo a prostatectomy. Side effects include impotence and urine leakage from nerve damage. However, there are specific medical instances when surgeons can perform nerve-sparing surgery. This type of surgery can potentially save the nerves that control erection.


According to the National Cancer Institute, cryosurgery uses an instrument to freeze and destroy prostate cancer cells. This type of treatment does not remove the cancer cells but kills them and is used when the tumor is too large for complete removal or conventional surgery. It is an option for patients who want to avoid major surgery. Cryosurgery is not nerve sparing because of the difficulty to kill all the cancer cells without disturbing or damaging surrounding normal cell structure. You may experience impotence and urine leakage after cryosurgery.

About this Author

Gail Morris has been writing extensively since 1997. She completed a master’s in nursing at IUPUI and practiced in medicine for more than 20 years. Morris has published medical articles in peer-reviewed journals and now writes for various online publications and freelances for Internet Marketers.