"The groundwork of all happiness is health." - Leigh Hunt

Am I too old to have prostate surgery?

How old is it to undergo a radical prostatectomy?

William D. Wolff, MD, chief of the division of urology at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, says:

For surgery to make sense—that's, for the advantages to outweigh the risks—you could be young enough to benefit from the extra survival time surgery offers. Therefore, I generally don't recommend this surgery for a person with a life expectancy of lower than 10 years, or for a person older than 75, given his personal and family health history. depending on.

Radical prostatectomy is a serious operation that could cause serious and life-threatening complications equivalent to blood clots within the legs and lungs, abnormal heart rhythms, heart attacks, pneumonia and infections. The risk is increased in older men and folks with other medical conditions equivalent to heart and lung disease, hypertension, diabetes, or a history of blood clots. Some studies show that unwanted effects, equivalent to urinary incontinence and erectile dysfunction, also increase with age.

Operating by handheld remote control

Many doctors recommend robotic prostatectomy over traditional “open” surgery, shown here, because recovery is less taxing. But complications can still occur.

Because many prostate cancers grow very slowly, an older man with the disease may select energetic surveillance, which involves following the cancer to see if it progresses and causes symptoms. Is. If this happens, or if the person prefers to be treated immediately, radiation therapy can control the disease for years. Hormone therapy may also help.

Bottom line: If your doctor says you're too old for surgery, don't despair. Other, lower-risk treatments can prevent cancer. Talk to your doctor about options.

Sources: Alibhai SM, Leach M, Tomlinson G, et al. Revisiting the danger of 30-day mortality after radical prostatectomy. Urology 2006; 68:1057–60. PMID: 17113897.

Thompson RH, Slezak JM, Webster WS, Lieber MM. Radical prostatectomy for octogenarians: how old is simply too old? Urology 2006; 68:1042–45. PMID: 17095073.

Originally published on July 1, 2009. Last reviewed on April 8, 2011.