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A quick guide to what's on this page

Types of surgery for prostate cancer

Your doctor will discuss the most suitable type of surgery for you depending on

  • The size of the cancer and whether it has spread outside the prostate gland
  • What the cells look like under a microscope
  • The likely outlook for your condition (your prognosis)
  • Your general health
  • Your symptoms

Removing the prostate gland

Removing the whole prostate gland is called a radical prostatectomy. The surgeon does this operation through a cut in your tummy (abdomen). Or they may do it through a number of small cuts. This is called keyhole surgery. Removing the prostate can often cure the cancer if it has not spread. 

Removing the testicles (orchidectomy)

An orchidectomy operation removes both your testicles so that they can't produce testosterone any more. Testosterone is a hormone that can make prostate cancer grow. Removing the testicles can shrink a locally advanced prostate cancer or stop it from growing.

Removing the inner part of the prostate (trans urethral resection)

Your surgeon removes part of the prostate gland from around the urethra (the tube that carries urine from your bladder). This is called a TUR operation or a TURP (trans urethral resection of the prostate). This operation may help to relieve your symptoms, such as being unable to pass urine. But it will not cure your cancer.  

 

CR PDF Icon You can view and print the quick guides for all the pages in the Treating prostate cancer section.

 

 

How doctors decide which surgery you need

Your doctor will discuss the most suitable type of surgery for you depending on

  • The size of the cancer and whether there is any spread (the stage)
  • What the cells look like under a microscope (the grade or Gleason score)
  • The likely outlook for your condition (your prognosis)
  • Your general health
  • Your symptoms

Before any operation, talk it over fully with your doctor. It is important that you know what it involves and what effects it may have on you. Remember that no operation is done without your consent.

 

Removing the prostate gland

Removing the prostate gland is also called total prostatectomy or radical prostatectomy. Your surgeon removes the prostate through a cut in your tummy (abdomen). Or they may do it as keyhole surgery, where they make a series of small cuts instead of one larger cut. Sometimes they remove the prostate through a cut made in the area between the testicles and the back passage (the perineum).

Removing the prostate can often cure the cancer if it has not spread beyond the prostate gland. In this section of the website there is detailed information about surgery to remove the prostate gland.

 

Removing the testicles (orchidectomy)

This operation removes both your testicles so that they cannot produce testosterone any more. Testosterone is a hormone that can make prostate cancer grow. Removing the testicles can shrink a locally advanced cancer or stop it from growing. Locally advanced cancer is one that has started to spread into the area around the prostate gland. 

Removing the testicles does not cure the prostate cancer. But this type of surgery can control the cancer for many months or sometimes years. Orchidectomy is not commonly used these days because doctors usually use hormonal therapies that stop the testicles making testosterone instead. In this section of the website we have detailed information about surgery to remove the testicles.

 

Removing the inner part of the prostate (trans urethral resection - TUR)

During a TUR your surgeon removes part of the inner area of the prostate gland from around the urethra. The urethra is the tube that carries urine from your bladder out of the body. The surgeon does this by passing a thin tube up your penis through the urethra. This operation can relieve symptoms such as being unable to pass urine. But it will not cure a prostate cancer. There is information about transurethral resection of the prostate in this section.

 

More information about prostate cancer surgery

This section of the website has detailed information about the different types of prostate cancer surgery

We have detailed information about the other treatments for prostate cancer and their possible side effects. You can also phone the Cancer Research UK nurses on freephone 0808 800 4040, from 9am to 5pm, Monday to Friday. They will be happy to answer any questions. 

UK Prostate Link can direct you to information about the surgical removal of the prostate gland as a treatment for prostate cancer or to reduce symptoms. Our prostate cancer organisations page gives details of other people who can give information about prostate cancer treatments. Some organisations can put you in touch with a cancer support group.

Our prostate cancer reading list has information about books, leaflets and other resources discussing treatments.

If you want to find people to share experiences with online, you could use Cancer Chat, our online forum.

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Updated: 21 February 2014