Prostate Cancer and Robotic Prostatectomy: Frequently Asked Questions
Being diagnosed with prostate cancer can bring a lot of questions to your mind. Below we have tried to answer some of the most commonly asked questions related to prostate cancer and robotic prostatectomy procedure.
1. What is Prostate Cancer and what should I know about it?
This is a type of slow-growing cancer which affects the prostate gland (found only in men). To learn more about the prostate cancer, its signs and symptoms, stages, causes, etc., please click here.
2. I feel overwhelmed by my diagnosis and the number of prostate cancer treatments. What can I do?
If you have just been diagnosed with prostate cancer and feeling overwhelmed, anxious, afraid, or just confused, you are not alone. The number of prostate cancer treatment options are many, and it may not be so easy to make a decision. However, it is important to remain positive in these circumstances and getting all the correct information from reliable sources.
Consult with a specialized doctor who can guide you and allay your fears. Also, remember to take help and support from your loved ones before and after treatment.
3. What is Robot-Assisted Radical Prostatectomy (RARP) or Robotic Prostatectomy?
RARP or robotic prostatectomy is a minimally invasive surgery for prostate cancer treatment performed by a surgeon with the help of robotic systems like the da Vinci Surgical System. Such a procedure effectively combines the human insights and expertise of an experienced surgeon with the precision of controlled robotic instruments.
To learn more about Robot-Assisted Radical Prostatectomy, please click here.
4. Is Robotic Prostatectomy (RARP) safe?
A long-term research conducted by Henry Ford Hospital in the U.S. has concluded that RARP is as safe as open prostate surgery. The study was conducted among more than 3000 patients from US above 65 years of age and concluded that “RARP is a safe operation.”
Due to the several benefits of Robotic Prostatectomy, such as smaller incisions, less blood loss, more precise movements and better visualization, the overall risk of infections as well the duration of stay are also reduced significantly.
However, the success of any surgery, open or robotic, depends on the expertise of the surgeon doing it. And therefore, it is highly advised that in case of any concerns, have a detailed discussed with your doctor regarding the safety and risks involved in robotic prostatectomy.
To contact our specialists with your queries, click here.
5. What is the preparation required before the operation?
Complete and detailed instructions will be given to you by your doctor before your surgery. Some of the main points include:
- Avoiding certain medications starting a week before your surgery. If you have any ongoing treatments, your doctor will ask you to avoid/stop certain medications before the surgery.
- The day before the surgery, you will be asked to avoid all solid foods and take only a liquid diet. You will also be prescribed a laxative by the doctor.
- You may also be advised by your doctor to practice kegel exercises prior to the surgery.
Ensure you follow all the instructions issued by the doctor properly, and arrive for your appointment on time.
6. How long does the Robotic Prostatectomy operation take?
The surgery itself will take around 2.5-3 hours, with an additional couple of hours in the operating room for pre-operative preparation and post-operative recovery. The nursing staff will periodically keep your family appraised of your progress during the procedure.
7. What can I expect after my prostatectomy?
You will be in the recovery room for 2-3 hours after surgery. There will be tiny incisions on each side of your abdomen and a short incision above your belly button, which will be closed with self-absorbable sutures.
The usual time of stay in the hospital after the surgery is 1-2 days, depending on the outcomes. A urinary catheter will be installed which will need to remain for one-two weeks. You will also receive thorough discharge instructions from the doctor regarding the allowed diet, medications, showering and activity restrictions.
A recording of the operation will be available on a CD after the operation which you may purchase for a nominal fee.
Robotic Prostatectomy, while a safe procedure, still is a major operation and requires care, time and effort for full recovery.
8. Will I experience pain after the prostatectomy?
Patients usually experience certain amount of pain after their surgery, which is normal after any type of prostate surgery. You may expect the following:
- Bladder spasms: This feels like cramps in the lower abdomen and can occur anytime while the catheter is in place. This is a normal experience and can be eased with the help of doctor-prescribed medications.
- Urethral pain: This usually happens due to the presence of catheter and feels like burning sensation at the penis tip. Again, this is a normal occurrence and your doctor can help with easing the pain.
- Swelling of penis/scrotum: This usually takes place within the first couple of days of the prostate surgery due to fluid build-up and can continue up to a week. Doctor may advise you to use ice packs and keep the region elevated while sitting or lying in the bed.
In certain patients, gas pain, blood in urine, etc. may also be observed, but unless the doctor says so, there is no need for alarm. Most of the discomforts post the surgery can be managed with simple medicines and last for only 7-10 days after the prostatectomy.
9. How long does it take to regain urinary control (continence) after robotic prostatectomy?
A few days after the prostatectomy your catheter will be removed. It is quite likely that you will leak variable amounts of urine and need urinary pads or other type of urine collection device for a while after the surgery. Some patients may need to use pads for duration ranging from a few weeks to a few months. Some leakage is experienced by most men during activity like laughing, coughing, and exercising. The leakage may be just a few drops or a large continuous volume causing the patient want to rush to the toilet.
According to a data, 80% of men regain continence in 3 months, 93% in 6 months, and 96% in around 12 months. However, in a few rare cases, the incontinence may continue up to a year or more, and there are a number of surgical procedures that can help restore urinary control if required.
10. What are the chances of losing potency (erectile dysfunction) after robotic prostatectomy?
All prostate cancer surgeries carry a certain risk of impotence, but there are many options available to men who wish to regain sexual potency after a prostatectomy. Erectile dysfunction due to radical prostatectomy of localized prostate cancer is a known possible complication. However, by using a “nerve-sparing radical prostatectomy”, many patients can expect to recover their erectile function post this procedure.
Only a few patients regain their erectile function spontaneously and immediately after a radical prostatectomy. The normal erectile function usually starts returning between 6–12 months post the surgery, and medicinal rehabilitation is required starting at 1 month after the prostatectomy.
The return of erectile function is also dependent on the patient’s age, history of medical conditions (such as diabetes, blood pressure, coronary diseases), use of PDE-5 inhibitors, quality of erection prior to the surgery, and whether a nerve-sparing surgery was done.
The best potency outcomes are observed for non-diabetic men under 50, who have undergone a nerve-sparing radical prostatectomy. However, to understand your chances of regaining erectile function post prostatectomy, have a thorough discussion with your doctor.
11. When can I return to work after robotic prostatectomy?
On an average, patients can return to active work in around 2 weeks after the surgery. But your doctor may advise postponing it depending on the nature of work and in case of any complications observed after the surgery. How long a person takes to recover enough to be able to work also depends on his motivation for the same.
If you have any further queries regarding your prostate cancer or any other prostate related issue, contact our expert doctors today.