Cancer Recurrence

Despite the fact that initial prostate cancer treatments may be effective in getting rid of prostate cancer, patients should understand their treatment and surgical options if the cancer returns (reoccurrence).

Recurrence After Surgery1

Patients typically have more options to treat a recurrence of prostate cancer if their cancer was first removed with surgery (prostatectomy). If prostate cancer returns after surgery, patients may still receive radiation therapy, sometimes along with hormone therapy.

Recurrence After Radiation1

If you first received radiation to treat prostate cancer, surgery may not be an option if the cancer returns since there is a higher risk of side effects. Repeating radiation therapy is also not a common option because of the risk of side effects.

Surgery performed after radiation treatment for prostate cancer is often referred to as a salvage prostatectomy. A salvage prostatectomy is a more difficult operation to perform than a prostatectomy performed before any radiation treatment. Radiation may cause damage to surrounding tissues which makes a careful dissection of important tissues and structures difficult.

Talk to your doctor about the pros and cons of all treatment and surgical options, as well as your options if cancer returns.

  1. American Cancer Society. “Cancer that remains or recurs after treatment.” Available from:

PN 1003344 Rev A 08/2013

All surgery presents risk, including da Vinci Surgery. Results, including cosmetic results, may vary. Serious complications may occur in any surgery, up to and including death. Examples of serious and life-threatening complications, which may require hospitalization, include injury to tissues or organs; bleeding; infection, and internal scarring that can cause long-lasting dysfunction or pain. Temporary pain or nerve injury has been linked to the inverted position often used during abdominal and pelvic surgery. Patients should understand that risks of surgery include potential for human error and potential for equipment failure. Risks specific to minimally invasive surgery may include: a longer operative time; the need to convert the procedure to other surgical techniques; the need for additional or larger incision sites; a longer operation or longer time under anesthesia than your surgeon originally predicts. Converting the procedure to open could mean a longer operative time, long time under anesthesia, and could lead to increased complications. Research suggests that there may be an increased risk of incision-site hernia with single-incision surgery. Patients who bleed easily, have abnormal blood clotting, are pregnant or morbidly obese are typically not candidates for minimally invasive surgery, including da Vinci Surgery. Other surgical approaches are available. Patients should review the risks associated with all surgical approaches. They should talk to their doctors about their surgical experience and to decide if da Vinci is right for them. For more complete information on surgical risks, safety and indications for use, please refer to

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Facing Prostate Cancer?

Prostate Cancer Treatment Options

Detailed Treatment Comparison

Find out how the clinical outcomes of da Vinci Surgery and prostatectomy compare with radiation therapy and open surgery.