March 16, 2009 -- Question: What is a nerve-sparing prostatectomy, and when is it used in the treatment of prostate cancer? (Please explain who is a candidate, and when it might be a bad idea.)
Answer: A nerve-sparing radical prostatectomy is an operation for cancer that involves complete removal of the prostate gland in immediate surrounding tissue with preservation of the important nerves that control sexual function. This operation is very good for men who have a cancer confined in the prostate gland or immediate periprosthetic tissue. It's not so good for men with a large tumor. If the tumor appears to extend into the nerve or the area of the nerve, the nerve on that side should generally be removed.