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Prostate Surgery: What You Need to Know

Prostate Surgery Information

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Updated May 28, 2014

Written or reviewed by a board-certified physician. See About.com's Medical Review Board.

Doctors in surgery
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Prostate Surgery

The prostate gland is a common source of medical problems for men. Surgery is one of the most common treatments for a variety of prostate problems. While other treatment options available, prostate surgery is often the treatment of choice for prostate cancer.

What Is the Prostate?

The prostate is a gland that is found only in men. It is located below the bladder and wraps around the urethra, the tube that carries urine from the bladder and out of the body.

The anatomy of the prostate gland is typically referred to as lobes or zones. Your surgeon may refer to areas of the prostate that will be removed during surgery either way, or using both the words "lobes" and "zones."

Diagnosing Prostate Conditions

Most men are diagnosed with a prostate condition after they report symptoms commonly associated with prostate enlargement, such as difficulty urinating, difficulty starting urination, and an inability to completely empty the bladder.

If a prostate exam reveals an enlarged prostate, or any other cause for concern, a prostate biopsy is typically the next step. This biopsy will determine if the prostate condition is benign, or if prostate cancer is present.

Risks of Prostate Surgery

Every surgery has risks and prostate surgery is no different. In addition to the standard risks of surgery and the risks of anesthesia that are present for every surgery, there are risks specific to prostate procedures. These risks include, but are not limited to, erectile dysfunction and problems with urination.

Types of Prostate Surgery

There are multiple types of prostate surgery that are available to treat prostate conditions. The two most common conditions, benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH) and prostate cancer, can be treated with surgical techniques. Some patients may opt for medication or non-surgical therapies, depending on how aggressively they and their doctor would like to treat the condition.

Prostate Surgeries:

Alternatives to Prostate Surgery

There are less invasive alternatives to prostate surgery, depending on the nature of the prostate problem, how severe it is, and your goals for treatment. For some men, alleviating the symptoms of prostate enlargement is more important than aggressive treatment.

For patients with cancer, "watchful waiting” is one approach, where the condition is monitored but no intensive therapy is done. For others, hormone therapy, using medications to treat the prostate, is an option.

Some men with prostate problems also elect to have more intensive treatments without surgery, such as chemotherapy, radiation therapy, cryotherapy, or ultrasound treatments.

Life After Prostate Surgery

Most patients and their partners have many questions about recovering from prostate surgery and life after prostate surgery.

Those questions include:

Sources:

Incontinence After Prostate Surgery. Global Robotics Institute at Florida Hospital. https://www.globalroboticsinstitute.com/en/urology-robotic-prostatectomy/incontinence-after-prostate-surgery

Laparoscopic Robotic Assisted Prostatectomy. University of Michigan Health System. Accessed May 2010. http://www.med.umich.edu/1libr/urology/lapRP.htm

Transurethral Electro-Resection of the Prostate. Cedars-Sinai. Accessed May 2010.

Transurethral Microwave Technology. Cedars-Sinai. Accessed May 1010. http://www.csmc.edu/Patients/Programs-and-Services/Minimally-Invasive-Urology-Program/Treatment/Transurethral-Microwave-Technology-TUMT.aspx

Transurethral Resection of the Prostate. National Institute of Health. Accessed May 2010. http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/002996.htm

Urinary Incontinence Following Prostate Cancer Treatment: Incidence and Clinical Presentation. From the Service d'Urologie at the Hôpital Charles Nicolle, Rouen, France (PG), and the Genitourinary Program at the H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center & Research Institute, Tampa, Florida. Medscape Today.

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