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Prostate Cancer, Surgery and Treatment Options at Penn Medicine

prostate cancer surgery Penn

Surgery may be an option for many men with prostate cancer. In some prostate cancer cases, a radical prostatectomy, removal of the prostate gland, is needed.

Penn is a national leader in surgical treatment of prostate cancer and its surgeons are at the forefront of developing and using new minimally invasive surgical techniques. Benefits of minimally invasive surgical techniques include:

  • Smaller incisions/less scarring
  • Significantly less pain
  • Less blood loss
  • Shorter recovery time
  • Faster return to normal daily activities

Radical Prostatectomy

A radical prostatectomy is complete removal of the prostate gland, surrounding tissue and seminal vesicles. A prostatectomy can be performed via traditional surgery, or robotic-assisted surgery.

Traditional prostatectomy

Traditional prostatectomy involves removing the prostate and surrounding tissues through an incision in the body. Nearby lymph nodes may be removed at the same time.

The surgical incision can be made either though the abdomen or through the perineum, the area between the scrotum and the anus.

Robotic-Assisted Prostatectomy

One of the most innovative treatments for prostate cancer is robotic-assisted laparoscopic prostatectomy – removal of the prostate gland via computer-assisted surgery.

Laparoscopic robotic-assisted prostatectomy is the complete removal of the prostate using long, narrow instruments that are introduced through very small skin incisions. To perform the procedure, six tiny incisions are made in the patient's abdomen and the laparoscopic instruments are carefully inserted and attached to the robot.

Robotic prostatectomy offers similar and sometimes better outcomes than traditional prostate cancer surgery. The margins obtained around the prostate are just as precise, if not more so, than with open surgery. This leads to cancer cure rates equal to traditional surgery. Better precision also means better nerve sparing, thereby maximizing the chances of preserving sexual and urinary function.

While these technological advantages are significant, a surgeon's skill and experience remain the most important elements for achieving good outcomes. Penn has one of the most experienced robotic-assisted surgery teams in the world, with full-time surgeons dedicated to robotic-assisted prostatectomies. It's their experience, understanding of the body and prostate cancer, and dexterity of the robot's tools that helped rank Penn's urology the highest in the Philadelphia region, and among the nation's best.

Most men who have robotic-assisted prostatectomies return to work in two to three weeks and can resume activities such as golf and weightlifting in about three weeks.


Cryosurgery is a treatment currently offered through clinical trial studies. Cryosurgery is the application of extreme cold to destroy tumors and cancer cells. Cryosurgery may be an option to treat prostate cancer if other treatment options are not successful.

Learn More About Prostate Cancer Treatment at Penn

If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with prostate cancer or an abnormal PSA, you're probably wondering what to do next. Look to Penn's Abramson Cancer Center for the most advanced cancer program in the region - for full insight on all your options including a second opinion for prostate cancer treatment.

Our team will:

  • Help you understand your PSA levels and guide you towards the next steps you should take
  • Ensure you have the most accurate diagnosis using advanced diagnostics
  • Offer you the most advanced surgical and radiation treatment options – all in one place
  • Answer your questions about the potential side effects of all your options
  • Provide an unbiased opinion on your best treatment option

Call 800-789-7366 (PENN) to schedule a consultation with a Penn prostate cancer specialist.

About This Blog

The Focus on Cancer blog discusses a variety of cancer-related topics, including treatment advances, research efforts and clinical trials, nutrition, support groups, survivorship and patient stories.

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