Can I Have Prostate Surgery If My Radiation Treatments Are Unsuccessful?

Dr. Kalnicki answers the question: 'Is Prostate Surgery Done After Radiation?'

March 16, 2009 -- Question: Can I have prostate surgery if my radiation treatments are unsuccessful?

Answer: Prostate surgery after radiation therapy -- also called salvage prostatectomy -- can be performed, but it has the caveat of having a much higher complication rate than when performed in a patient who's not been irradiated before. This is why it is extremely important to consult with a multidisciplinary team of experts in prostate cancer -- a surgeon, a radiation oncologist and, sometimes, a medical oncologist for the intermediate and high-risk cases -- to have a comprehensive evaluation and have, from the outset, the therapy program that is most likely to cure the patient.

It is very important to select cases for radiation that we feel strongly can be cured with radiation, either alone or in combination with another modality, because salvage prostatectomy does have a much higher complication rate than a prostatectomy performed on a patient who did not have radiation before.