Questions to Ask your Doctor: If You’re Considering Undergoing Prostate Cancer Surgery

A surgical approach to treating prostate cancer entails removing all of the prostate. Typically, men with early-stage disease or cancer that’s confined to the prostate will undergo radical prostatectomy- removal of the entire prostate gland, plus some surrounding tissue.  Other surgical procedures may be performed on men with advanced or recurrent disease. If you are considering undergoing prostate cancer surgery, here are a few questions to discuss with your doctor:

  • Which surgical technique will be used? Open or robotic? How are they different?
  • Based on your experience, why is this the best approach for me?
  • Will you be able to save the nerves near the prostate that are responsible for erection?
  • What level of success have you had in preserving potency in your patients following surgery?
  • Will you be removing lymph-nodes to check for spread of cancer? What does this tell you about my prognosis?
  • What about preserving urinary continence?
  • What will you do if you find cancer outside of my prostate during surgery? Will that change my prognosis and future treatment?
  • What can I expect following the surgery in terms of recovery?
  • What are the likely or possible side effects of the surgery- both short term and long term?
  • What will we do to monitor my prostate cancer following surgery?

Terms to know from this article:

Radical prostatectomy

Surgery to remove the entire prostate. The two types of radical prostatectomy are retropubic prostatectomy and perineal prostatectomy.

Prostate gland

A gland in the male reproductive system just below the bladder. The prostate surrounds part of the urethra, the canal that empties the bladder, and produces a fluid that forms part of semen.


The likely outcome or course of a disease; the chance of recovery or recurrence.


The clear fluid that travels through the lymphatic system and carries cells that help fight infections and other diseases. Also called lymphatic fluid.