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Older man and doctor before surgeryWhen diagnosed with any life-threatening disease emotions can run high. Sometimes just getting more familiar with what to expect can ease anxiety. Here are a few things you may want to know about your upcoming prostatectomy.

Types of Prostatectomy Surgeries

There are several types of prostatectomy procedures that your doctor may recommend - robotic radical prostatectomy, open radical prostatectomy, or open simple prostatectomy. In the robotic radical procedure, the doctor remotely controls the surgical instruments during the procedure. Because a console with a magnified 3D view is used, the surgeon can get a view with much better detail than in other types of surgery. Using the robotic equipment means smaller incisions and spared nerve damage which can result in reduced pain, blood loss, and tissue trauma. This most often leads to a shorter hospital stay and quicker recovery.

If the robotic procedure is not an option there are two other more traditional procedures your doctor may recommend. In the open radical prostatectomy, the surgeon makes an incision below the navel and dissects the prostate gland along with nearby tissue and then the incision is closed with sutures. In the other procedure, the open simple prostatectomy, a scope for viewing and a tube to drain the bladder is placed into the tip of the penis. Then the surgeon can make a smaller incision below the navel and using the scope to navigate will remove the prostate gland.

After the Procedure: What to Know

After surgery, intravenous pain medication is given and then most likely a prescription pain medicine will be given after the IV is removed. Soon after surgery, exercise will consist of moving your feet in the bed and then you will be encouraged to start walking either the day of the surgery or the day after depending on the type of surgery. If all is going well, most men will be released the day after surgery.

Most men will need a catheter for five to ten days after their surgery. You can start to resume activities gradually but no driving until your doctor releases you. Sexual activity usually can resume after 6-8 weeks and follow up visits are usually recommended at 6 weeks and then again in a few months.

Prostate Cancer Survivors

There are many stories of cancer survival and one thing common to many of these stories is a positive outlook. Once a diagnosis is made there are real choices to be made about how you wish to proceed. One cancer survivor put it this way, “The worst thing you can do with any life-threatening disease is sit around all day waiting for the next test. If I die tomorrow I think I could look at myself in the mirror and say I tried everything I could to live as healthy a life as possible. I didn’t just sit around and hope that the next treatment might work.” Getting busy with eating better and upping your exercise routine can have positive physical and psychological outcomes.

Nutrition and Exercise: The Connection with Prostate Cancer

The connection between foods and cancer have been studied intensely in past years. Some studies have shown links between what we eat and the chance of getting cancer and recovery outcomes. For example, according to the National Cancer Institute dairy products may increase prostate cancer risk while cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli, Brussel sprouts, cabbage, kale, and radishes may actually reduce prostate cancer.

Besides a good exercise program making you stronger and helping to lift feelings of frustration and depression, one study reported by the National Cancer Institute, found that “men with nonmetastatic prostate cancer who engaged in vigorous activity for at least 3 hours per week had a 61% lower risk of death from prostate cancer compared with men who engaged in vigorous activity for less than 1 hour per week. Another study of men with localized prostate cancer found that higher levels of physical activity were associated with reduced overall and prostate cancer–specific mortality.”

June is Men's Health Month and NorthShore™ wanted to bring awareness to one of the most common health conditions men face. It may seem scary to be diagnosed with Prostate cancer, but the more information available the better you can cope during the process. What to expect before and after the surgery, a positive mentality and the integration of exercise can help throughout the journey.