Prostate Cancer Surgery

At UC San Diego Health, our surgeons are highly skilled and experienced in the most advanced techniques for surgically treating prostate cancer. We helped pioneer the use of robotically assisted instrumentation to perform prostatectomies and since 2002 have performed thousands of these highly effective, minimally invasive procedures. We perform hundreds of prostatectomies annually with low rates of complications.

What Does Surgery for Prostate Cancer Involve?

Surgery for Prostate Cancer


Surgical treatment of prostate cancer usually involves what is called a radical prostatectomy, which is the removal of the prostate gland, seminal vesicles and a portion of the urethra. Nearby tissue that may contain cancer cells may also be removed, as well as pelvic lymph nodes to see whether the cancer has spread. Surgery may be performed to fix urinary problems that are caused by a tumor pressing on the urethra, too.

A radical prostatectomy can cure men of prostate cancer in cases where the tumor is truly localized to the prostate.

Surgery is one of two main treatments for prostate cancer. Radiation therapy is the other. For prostate cancer that is highly aggressive or reoccurring, hormone therapy or chemotherapy may also be used.

Types of Prostate Surgery

Prostate surgery can be performed using either minimally invasive or open surgical approaches. In both cases, UC San Diego Health surgeons employ nerve-sparing techniques to try to preserve sexual function and bladder control.

  • Minimally invasive surgery: Minimally invasive techniques use a few small incisions to access the prostate and any nearby tissue that may contain cancer cells.  We perform robotically assisted minimally invasive surgeries for prostate cancer.
  • Open surgery: The prostate and other tissue that may contain cancer are removed via a single large incision.

Robotically Assisted Surgery for Prostate Cancer

Our surgeons use the most advanced technology available for minimally invasive prostate surgeries, a surgical platform called the da Vinci System. 

The da Vinci System gives surgeons a magnified 3D view of the surgical field and is equipped with special instruments that bend and rotate in ways the human hand cannot. These features enable surgeons to remove cancerous tissue with extraordinary precision and control.

Robotically assisted radical prostatectomy has been shown to be as effective as open surgery with several potential advantages, including:

  • Less blood loss and lower risk of blood transfusions
  • Less pain
  • Shorter hospital stays (Most men go home after one day of hospitalization.)
  • Lower risk of wound infection
  • Faster return of sexual (erectile) function
  • Lower rates of hospital readmission

 

Prostate Cancer Surgery

Christopher Kane, MD, explains prostate surgery and what men can expect in terms of urinary and erection control. When this video was originally produced, robotically assisted surgery was a relatively new option for men. At UC San Diego Health, it is now the most common surgery we perform for prostate cancer.