Prostate cancer


Prostate cancer

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Surgery involves removing tissues or organs from the body. The type of surgery you have depends on your cancer. You may also hear surgery called an operation or a procedure.

Every operation is different. Ask your surgeon about what to expect.

If you have a prostate cancer that is localised to the prostate or the immediate area around the prostate, you may have a few treatment options.

It is recommended that you see a radiation oncologist as well as a urologist (surgeon) to fully understand these treatment options.

What you need to know

Prostate cancer surgery

There are a few types of surgery used for men with prostate cancer. These include:

Radical prostatectomy

  • This is removal of the whole prostate gland.
  • The intent is to cure the cancer.
  • It is used when the cancer hasn’t spread outside the prostate.
  • Sometimes lymph nodes near the prostate are removed to check for any spread of cancer cells.
  • There are different ways of doing a radical prostatectomy.

Transurethral resection of prostate (TURP)

  • This is when the inner part of the prostate is removed.
  • It is done using a cystoscope which is passed through the penis to reach the prostate gland.
  • It is used to improve symptoms when the prostate gland makes it difficult to pass urine.


  • This is removing the testes (testicles).
  • It can be used in advanced prostate cancer to stop the production of testosterone.

Your surgeon will discuss with you when and where you can have your operation, and any costs involved. They will also give you instructions about what to do before your surgery and what to expect afterwards.

The surgical team

Health professionals who work as part of the surgical team include:

  • surgeon
  • anaesthetist
  • nurse
  • allied health professional.

What to ask or talk about

Side effects of prostate surgery

Your surgeon will discuss any risks of the surgery with you before your operation. Most hospitals will also give you written information about the surgery and who to contact if you have any concerns.

Possible general surgical side effects and complications include:

  • pain
  • infection
  • bleeding
  • lymphoedema 
  • fatigue
  • loss of appetite
  • blood clots.

Possible side effects from prostate surgery include:

  • Loss of bladder control - Also called urinary incontinence. It usually improves a few months to a year after surgery. 
  • Impotence -  It often improves months to years after surgery. 
  • Infertility - Not being able to father children. 
  • Dry orgasms - Due to semen not being produced.
  • Shortening of the penis - This can happen over time. 

The surgical team looking after you during and after your operation will take care to reduce your risk of side effects, and treat any that you get.

Every operation is different. Ask your surgeon about what to expect and see our checklist of questions to ask.

checklist Checklists

Use our checklists to find helpful tips or questions to ask.

Next steps

Preparing for surgery

Before surgery, you will need to sign a consent form. It is important you understand what you are consenting to and the possible risks of the surgery.

Some things you should know are:

  • whether you need to have tests and a preoperative assessment
  • whether you need to change or stop any medications, e.g. blood thinners like aspirin
  • when you have to stop eating and drinking
  • when you have to be there
  • whether you need time off work
  • whether you need someone to care for you at home after surgery (if you are having day surgery you will need someone to drive you home).
If you smoke, you should stop before any operation as your risk of complications from surgery is higher.

Where to get help

There are people you can talk to for more information or support.

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