What Is A Transurethral Resection Of The Prostate (TURP)?

James Flynn, M.D., Cancer Treatment Center of America

March 16, 2009 -- Question: What is a transurethral resection of the prostate (TURP)?

Answer: That stands for transurethral resection of the prostate. It is performed for a disease entity that is non-malignant that occurs in elderly men that is results from enlargement of the prostate gland which happens as we age. What the surgeon does is through a series of instruments he enlarges that portion of the urethra which connects the bladder to the penis and runs through the prostate enlarging that so that the urinary symptoms that an elderly man might suffer as a result of BPH -- or benign prostatic hypertrophy -- would be relieved. That's the good news.

The bad news is that in doing so the urethra is somewhat damaged or weakened permanently. In the case of a man who may subsequently develop prostate cancer, the usage of brachytherapy seed radiation would generally be not advised because it therefore raises the incidence of side effects particularly in regard to urinary incontinence.