A radical prostatectomy is an operation for men with prostate cancer. It involves removing the entire prostate gland through a cut in the lower abdomen. Removing the prostate can be curative if the cancer is in an early stage (confined to the prostate and not spread).
Occasionally, this surgery may involve the removal of the pelvic lymph nodes. The lymph nodes are part of the lymphatic system, which is the cleansing system of the body.
The pelvic lymph nodes drain the prostate gland and if the cancer is of a higher grade and spreads from the prostate it may be identified within the lymph nodes.
Radical prostatectomy can be performed by an open approach (shown in the picture on the left) or using a minimally-invasive approach called robotic-assisted laparoscopic radical prostatectomy (RALP), shown in the picture on the right. See here for further details on RALP. RALP is now the most frequently performed method of prostate removal in the USA and here in Christchurch we have the largest expertise in this procedure in New Zealand. Both methods may be right for your - ask your urologist for more information.