What to Know About Surgery for Prostate Cancer

Surgery is a common option to treat prostate cancer in its early stages. First, you’ll meet with a surgeon to talk about what will happen. You can ask questions about any concerns you have.

You may have surgery to take out your whole prostate. This is called radical prostatectomy. There are a few common ways to do it. They differ based mainly on where the surgeon makes the cut, called the incision.

  • Retropubic prostatectomy. The surgeon makes a cut in your abdomen. He or she takes out the prostate. Nearby lymph nodes may also be removed.

  • Perineal prostatectomy. The surgeon makes a cut between your scrotum and your anus. Usually, only your prostate is taken out. Sometimes, the surgeon also cuts your abdomen to remove nearby lymph nodes.

  • Laparoscopic prostatectomy. This is a less-invasive type of surgery in which the prostate is removed through small incisions using a laparoscope (a long, flexible lighted tube with a video camera attached) and special long, thin surgical tools. This type of procedure is now often done by a surgeon sitting at a control panel to precisely maneuver robotic arms holding surgical tools (robotic-assisted laparoscopic radical prostatectomy). 

After surgery, you may have to stay in the hospital for a few days. The length of your stay depends on the kind of surgery you have.

Even if you have surgery, you may need other treatments. For example, your doctor may recommend radiation therapy if the surgery shows the prostate cancer has spread farther than was initially thought. Before you have surgery, talk with your doctor about the chances you may need other treatments as well.