There are possible risks and side effects for any type of surgery for prostate cancer.
Risks of Prostate Surgery
The risks with any type of radical prostatectomy are much like those with any major surgery. Problems during or shortly after the operation can include:
- Reactions to anaesthesia
- Bleeding from the surgery
- Blood clots in the legs or lungs
- Damage to nearby organs
- Infections at the surgery site
Rarely, part of the intestine may be injured during surgery, which could lead to infections in the abdomen, and might require more surgery to correct. Injuries to the intestines are more common with laparoscopic and robotic surgeries than with the open approach.
If lymph nodes are removed, a collection of lymph fluid can form and may need to be drained. In extremely rare cases, people die because of complications of this operation. Your risk depends, in part, on your overall health, your age, and the skill of your surgical team.
Side Effects of Prostate Surgery
You may not be able to control your urine or have leakage or dribbling. There are different levels of incontinence. Being incontinent can affect you not only physically but emotionally and socially as well. There are 3 major types of incontinence:
- Men with stress incontinence might leak urine when they cough, laugh, sneeze, or exercise. Stress incontinence is the most common type after prostate surgery. It is usually caused by problems with the valve that keeps urine in the bladder. Prostate cancer treatments can damage the muscles that form this valve or nerves that keep the muscles working.
- Men with overflow incontinence have trouble emptying their bladder. They take a long time to urinate and have a dribbling stream with little force. Overflow incontinence is usually caused by blockage or narrowing of the bladder outlet by scar tissue.
- Men with urge incontinence have a sudden need to urinate. This happens when the bladder becomes too sensitive to stretching as it fills with urine.
Rarely after surgery, men lose all ability to control their urine. This is called continuous incontinence. After surgery for prostate cancer, normal bladder control usually returns within several weeks or months. This recovery usually occurs slowly over time.
Doctors can’t predict for sure how any man will be affected after they have had the surgery. In general, older men tend to have more incontinence problems than younger men. Large cancer centres, where prostate surgery is done often and surgeons have a lot of experience, generally report fewer problems with incontinence.