The aim of the surgery is to cure the cancer and reduce the risk of incontinency and impotence. Having performed over 4,000 open surgery cases to date, the most in the Southern Hemisphere, I have been able to refine this technique to ensure exceptional outcomes in terms of cure, continency and minimal complications. 

A nerve sparing technique, open surgery involves a 10 to 15 cm incision in the abdomen. Side effects at the time of operation are now very infrequent, with less than 2% major complications and the urinary incontinence rate at one year post surgery is 1.5%.

A final decision on whether or not to spare nerves is made at the time of surgery. When the layers surrounding and attached to the prostate become thickened and if after removal of the prostate there is concern that not all the cancer has been removed then the nerves are sacrificed. In my hands, more than 85% of all nerves are preserved.

In young men, 50% achieve normal sexual function after two years, whilst 80 to 90% achieve reasonable sexual function with or without Viagra after the same period.

Advantages of open surgery

The advantage of an open radical prostatectomy includes more detailed knowledge about the nature or pathology of the cancer and its extent. If the pathology findings indicate that the cancer has been completely removed, it offers peace of mind.

The cure, however, is a difficult concept in prostate cancer management because any residual cancer can take years to progress. There is still a risk of recurrence, even if the entire cancer appears to have been removed.

About Phillip

Phillip is the Chairman of the Department of Urology, St Vincent's Private Hospital and Clinic since 2003, and a Director of the St Vincent's Prostate Cancer Centre.

The Australian Prostate Cancer Research Centre in New South Wales recently appointed him as clinical director. He is also a member of the National Prostate Cancer Research Centre

Philip is currently the highest volume robotic surgeon in Australasia

He is perhaps best known for his work developing nerve sparing techniques to help patients maximise potency