There are several different types of surgical procedures for prostate cancer, each with different benefits and risks. What is important to understand is that the risks associated with surgical removal of the prostate are much like those of any major surgery, including risks from anesthesia. In addition, most men undergoing prostate surgery will be hospitalized, require a catheter for 2 weeks and experience a lengthy recovery time.
Potential side effects of radical prostatectomy or robotic prostatectomy are urinary incontinence (being unable to control urine) and impotence (being unable to have erections). Both incontinence and impotence can affect a man, not only physically, but emotionally and socially. These side effects are also possible with other forms of therapy, although with varying degrees of frequency and severity. At least one study concluded that the rate of complications is higher for less experienced surgeons (as compared to highly experienced surgeons) (Catalona, WJ, et al., “Potency, continence, and complication rates in 1870 consecutive radical retropubic prostatectomies”. J. Urol., 1999.)