After prostate cancer surgery

After your operation, you will wake up in the recovery room. Once it’s safe to do so, you usually go back to the ward. Recovery rooms and wards are busy and often noisy places that some people find strange and disorienting. You'll feel drowsy because of the anaesthetic and painkillers.

It takes a few weeks for you to recover after your operation. You will need to spend a few days in the hospital and then give yourself time to recover once you are home. Most people can go back to normal activities between 6 to 8 weeks after surgery. 

Tubes and drains

When you wake up, you may have several tubes in you. This can be frightening, so it helps to know what they’re for.

You may have:

  • a drip to give you fluids usually through a vein in your arm
  • a small wound drain to drain any blood or fluid if you’ve had a radical prostatectomy
  • a tube into your bladder (urinary catheter)
  • an oxygen mask

The urinary catheter usually stays in for 7 to 10 days if you’ve had a radical prostatectomy.  After removal of the inner part of the prostate gland (TURP) it stays in for a couple of days. Before you leave the hospital your nurse will show you how to look after the catheter at home. 

After removing the catheter, you may have difficulty controlling your urine. This is usually temporary. It's important to prepare for this and have a supply of urinary pads at home. 

Painkillers

It’s normal to have pain for the first week or so. You have painkillers to help.

Tell your doctor or nurse as soon as you feel any pain. They need your help to find the right type and dose of painkiller for you. Painkillers work best when you take them regularly.

Immediately after surgery you might have painkillers through a drip into the bloodstream that you control. This is called patient controlled analgesia (PCA). Analgesia is another word for painkillers. 

Or you might have painkillers through a small thin tube that is put into your back. This tube is connected to a pump that gives you a constant dose of painkillers. This is called an epidural.

You get painkillers to take home. Follow the instructions your nurse gives you about how often and when to take them. Contact your doctor if you still have pain or if it gets worse.

Eating and drinking

Your team will let you know when you can start eating and drinking again. 

Your wound

After a radical prostatectomy, you have dressings over your wounds. You have 1 wound if you had open surgery. You may have several smaller wounds if you had keyhole (laparoscopic) surgery. After around 48 hours, a nurse changes the dressings and cleans your wounds. 

Your stitches or clips stay in for at least 7 to 10 days. Your hospital nurse usually arranges for someone to take them out after you go home. This is usually a practice nurse, district nurse or hospital nurse. This might be at home, at your GPs, or you may need to go back to the hospital.

Before you go home the nurse gives you information about how to care for the wound.

Getting up

Your nurses and physiotherapists help you to move around as soon as possible. They check you’re doing your breathing and leg exercises. This helps you recover.

You might be sitting in a chair within 12 hours of your operation. The day after, you’ll be walking around your hospital room. 

Making progress

During the first few days after your operation, you’ll start to feel better. The drips and drains will come out, you’ll start eating and can move about better.

You’ll begin to feel like you’re making progress.

Most people go home about 2 to 4 days after surgery to remove the prostate gland. 

After robotic surgery, you usually go home within 24 to 48 hours.   

Going home

You’ll need help when you first go home. The dietitian will talk to you and your family about what to eat. It can take some time to find what works for you.

You’re likely to feel very tired for several weeks and sometimes months after your surgery. It helps to do a bit more every day.

Try:

  • sitting for less time each day
  • walking around the house a bit more each day
  • building up to walking outside

What you can do depends on how fit you were before your surgery and any problems you have afterwards. Talk to the physiotherapist or your doctor if you’re unsure about what you should be doing.

Contact your doctor or specialist nurse if you have any problems or symptoms you’re unsure about. You’ll have follow up appointments to check your recovery and fix any problems. They’re also your opportunity to raise any concerns you have.

Follow up

You’ll have follow up appointments to check your recovery and sort out any problems. They’re also your opportunity to raise any concerns you have about your progress.

Your first check up is around 4 weeks after your operation. Then you usually have a check up every 3 months for 1 year. Then every 6 months for the next 2 years.

Last reviewed: 
14 Jun 2022
Next review due: 
14 Jun 2025
  • Cancer: Principles and Practice of Oncology (11th edition)
    VT DeVita, TS Lawrence, SA Rosenberg
    Wolters Kluwer, 2019

  • Optimal pain management for radical prostatectomy surgery: what is the evidence?
    Grish P. Joshi1 and others.
    BMC Anesthesiology, 2015. Volume 15

  • Prostate cancer: diagnosis and management
    National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE), 2019. Last updated December 2021

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