Surgery is a standard treatment option for prostate cancer. The procedure to remove the prostate completely or partially is referred to as prostatectomy. Like all surgical procedures, understanding what prostatectomy entails, what to expect, any side effects or risks, etc., is always crucial. Typically, your doctor will take you through every important detail. However, here are three critical things you should know about this prostate cancer surgery.
The Different Types Of Surgery
Prostatectomy can be done in several ways. First, radical prostatectomy is the most common procedure. Open simple prostatectomy is another option your doctor may recommend. Radical prostatectomy can also be done in different ways. Retropubic prostatectomy, perineal prostatectomy, laparoscopic prostatectomy and robotic prostatectomy are the standard radical prostatectomy procedures your doctor may suggest.
In a retropubic prostatectomy, the surgeon will make an incision to the abdominal wall to remove the prostate. In some cases, part of the surrounding areas like lymph nodes may also be removed to keep the cancer cells from spreading. However, your doctor will often only do this if they believe the cancer could spread to your lymph nodes. In some cases, additional treatments may be needed if the cancer has already spread to the lymph nodes.
Perineal prostatectomy is usually a less frequently used approach. First, it may not be as nerve-sparing. In addition, it's not the ideal solution if lymph nodes must be removed. For this reason, it may be a preferred solution if the lymph nodes won't need to be removed. The procedure is also not as time-consuming as the retropubic approach.
Laparoscopic prostatectomy relies on special tools, which is usually a thin tube containing a video camera known as a laparoscope. It's almost similar to robotic prostatectomy, only that with the robotic approach, the surgeon uses a computer-controlled robotic machine to perform the procedure. Usually, laparoscopic and robotic prostatectomy require a skilled surgeon. The hospital also needs to have the medical equipment. Nonetheless, laparoscopic procedures are generally minimally invasive.
Only the problematic part of the prostate will be removed with an open simple prostatectomy, so keep that in mind when discussing with your surgeon.
What To Expect Before The Procedure
Like all surgeries, your surgeon will first conduct a series of tests, like bladder and urethra tests. The surgeon will also talk to you about your current medications, smoking and drinking habits and diet, which may impact the procedure and your healing afterwards. Therefore, it's always best to give accurate information.
What To Expect Afterwards (Including Risks/Side Effects)
Bleeding, injuries to nerves and other nearby organs, and blood clots may be expected after the procedure. However, these can always be managed. Special tubes may be used to drain excess fluids following the procedure. A catheter may also be inserted in your bladder to help drain urine, usually for a few days. Pain medications will also be given for any pain.
As for the risks, urinary incontinence, sterility, erectile dysfunction and urinary leakage are possible complications.