Prostatectomy: aka Prostate Gland Removal, Transurethral Resection, Prostate Surgery, Prostate Removal Surgery, Radical Prostatectomy
What is it?
Prostatectomy or radical prostatectomy is surgery to remove all or part of the prostate gland, usually to help relieve symptoms of prostate enlargement or curative treatment in cases of prostate cancer. Typically after men reach age 40 and beyond they begin experiencing prostate enlargement. This is more common as men reach age 60 and older. Usually as this happens urination can become difficult or painful. Many men find they must urinate more frequently as well. Sometimes a procedure known as transurethral resection of the prostate or TURP can help relieve some of the symptoms of prostrate enlargement.
Often prostate cancer occurs in men after age 50. It is a common form of cancer in men after age 50. Not all men will need surgery however. Many will watch and wait and simply monitor the course of their illness. Usually only men that have cancer limited to the prostate will undergo surgery to eliminate cancer.
An open radical prostatectomy surgery typically will only take place if cancer is isolated to the prostate gland and has not spread beyond this gland. Serious side effects are often associated with prostate cancer surgery, hence this limiting condition.
An incision is made in the lower abdomen and the pelvic lymph nodes may be removed if metastases or spread of the cancer into the lymph is suspected. If the lymph nodes do contain cancer the surgery may not continue because removal of the prostate will not cure the patient and the complications of surgery can be too extreme. The prostate gland is often removed if all is clear and a catheter is then inserted into the man’s penis to help fluid drain. This is removed after roughly 2 to 3 weeks following surgery.
Alternatives to Surgery
Many times the surgeon will only perform surgery if the cancer is limited to the prostate because this surgery is not curative otherwise. Newer alternatives include watchful waiting because prostate cancer is so common among men in their 60s and beyond and often will not kill men until their later 80s and beyond, well into the normal life expectancy of most men. Some other new procedures include cryosurgery which is a less invasive procedure where tissues are frozen in an attempt to freeze and destroy growing cancer cells rather than surgically remove them by removing the prostate gland.
Before the Operation
Before surgery a doctor will insert a catheter into the urethra to control urine. Patients will need to be in good health prior to surgery or in as good health as possible to limit potential complications. The doctor will also inspect the bladder usually using an instrument known as a cystoscope. This will help the doctor determine the best possible procedure to use and help the doctor rule out any other problems that may be contributing to symptoms before surgery.
After the Operation- At Home
Following the surgery a patient will often take antibiotics to help prevent infection. Often patients also receive IV fluids for up to 24 hours to promote a healthy flow or urine. This can also help prevent infection. Patients are also encouraged to promote the flow of blood and circulation in their body by getting up and moving if possible. Patients can also pump their legs. Patients often stay in the hospital for one or two days following uncomplicated surgeries.
There are risks and complications associated with prostatectomy surgery including:
- Bleeding excessively, which can get to a point where the patient needs a transfusion.
- Incontinence or an inability to control ones urine, which may result from the prostatectomy, if the sphincter becomes damaged.
- Impotence, which can result from injury to the penis. Typically this results if nerve damage occurs and most surgeons take great care not to injure these nerves.
- Narrowing of the urethra which can cause difficulty urinating or problems with urination or urinary tract infections following surgery.
Some patients will also experience a recurrence of their cancer even if it is completely removed from the prostate. In fact the odds are the cancer will recur within 10 years following a prostatectomy, so there is some question as to whether the benefits of the surgery outweigh the risks.
It is important you consult with your healthcare provider to determine whether the benefits of a prostatectomy outweigh any risk associated with a prostatectomy. This type of surgery is not without its risks. For individuals at high risk for complications associated with prostate cancer this type of surgery may be a viable option. If you do find you are a good candidate for surgery you should consider all of your options and speak with a competent and very experienced surgeon to help you weigh all of your options and the pros and cons of the surgery.
Estimated Costs for Prostatectomy
The costs of a prostatectomy vary from person to person and country to country. The costs of hospital stays should be factored into the costs of surgery. Most people will have to stay in the hospital for a couple of days following surgery to ensure appropriate healing and monitoring of any possible complications or bleeding. Here is a list of some of the more common fees associated with a prostastectomy.