Prostate Cancer Surgery Side Effects

Prostate cancer is a condition that affects many men, especially after the fourth and fifth decade of life. Many treatment options are available to afflicted patients, including surgery, radiation, and chemotherapy. Surgery is often explored as a therapeutic option, but like all medical interventions, carries its own unique side effect profile that must be weighed by the patient before undergoing treatment.


Excessive bleeding, or hemorrhage, is a risk with any surgical procedure. With modern techniques, it has become less of an issue, but often surgeons prefer to have blood ready for transfusion during the procedure.

Urinary Extravasation

This refers to urine leaking out of the bladder into surrounding body tissues, and often resolves spontaneously. A draining catheter is usually left in place to drain any urine while the surrounding tissues heal and the problem resolves.

Erectile Dysfunction

Erectile problems after surgery remain one of the more feared complications and occur in approximately 3 to 5 percent of patients undergoing prostate surgery. It more commonly occurs in older men.

Retrograde Ejaculation

This refers to ejaculation that goes into the bladder as opposed to outside the body via the urethra. This occurs in over 80 percent of patients undergoing prostate surgery. Special care is taken during the surgery around the neck of the bladder to reduce the risk of this common complication which usually resolves with time.

Bladder Neck Contracture

This refers to a constriction of the neck of the bladder which results in obstruction to urine flow. This commonly occurs between 6 to 12 weeks after surgery, and often necessitates surgical intervention to dilate the neck to relieve obstruction.


Incontinent urine flow is a side effect of surgical interventions of the prostate. Often this results from damage to the nerves in the pelvis, which innervate the bladder and surrounding structures. As a result, control over urinary flow is lost. Medical therapy can be used to minimize this problem, but if severe, surgery can be performed to assist with urine control.

Non-Urologic Side Effects

These include common risks to any surgery and range from thrombosis of veins to heart attack, clot formation in the lungs, and stroke. These events occur in less than 1 percent of patients ,and overall mortality from these complications nears 0 percent.

About this Author

Saad Mohammad, M.D., is currently in the process of applying to residency anesthesiology. His first published research occurred in 2009 at the American Thoracic Society National Conference where a poster presentation was accepted and at the Bridgeport Symposium 2009. He began professionally writing in 2009 for Demand Studios as a freelance writer on issues in health and medicine.