Prostatectomy for People with Prostate Cancer: A Rapid Qualitative Review


Project Line:
Health Technology Review
Project Sub Line:
Summary with Critical Appraisal
Project Number:


  1. How do people with prostate cancer experience prostatectomy?
  2. What are their expectations of and perspectives on prostatectomy?
  3. What are their experiences and those of their partners or spouses relating to decision-making, surgery, recovery and long-term impact of prostatectomy on their lives?
  4. How do health care providers who care for people with prostate cancer understand and perceive prostatectomy? 
  5. What are their experiences and expectations of decision-making, surgery, recovery and long-term impact of prostatectomy on their patients’ lives?

Key Message

A total of 38 publications were included in this review that investigated how people with prostate cancer perceived and experienced prostatectomy. No studies investigated health care providers’ views on and experiences with prostatectomy. A diagnosis of prostate cancer raised difficult emotions for people diagnosed and their partners, who then sought information from a variety of sources. They particularly turned to those with experience with prostate cancer, but above all valued their specialists’ recommendations in informing their treatment decision. People with prostate cancer saw radical prostatectomy as a way to ‘get the cancer out’ quickly and effectively. They appreciated that they would receive more information on their cancer after surgery, and that it left other treatment options open.The transition from hospital to home was difficult for many people who underwent prostatectomy as they struggled emotionally and physically, particularly with having an indwelling catheter and experiencing incontinence upon its removal. While there was limited information on experiences of radical prostatectomy by type of surgical technique, people who had chosen laparoscopic prostatectomy as their treatment described pre-surgery that they appreciated the minimal invasiveness of the procedure. However, after surgery, some were surprised by the level of pain and discomfort they experienced post-operation. People who had undergone prostatectomy done with minimally invasive surgical techniques wished to stay in hospital longer and found themselves unprepared to be discharged to home.  People who had undergone a prostatectomy struggled with the long-term impact of urinary incontinence and erectile dysfunction, which affected their sense of self, their relationships with their partners, and their ability to engage socially. Despite this, people sought to find a new normal afterwards and tried to return to routines, and physical, social and work activities as quickly as possible.