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Weill Cornell Cancer Center

Treatment of Localized Disease

Patients with localized disease—cancer confined to the prostate—may be treated with surgery to remove the prostate (radical prostatectomy), cryotherapy, or radiation therapy.


Surgeons who treat prostate cancer at Weill Cornell have three goals:

  • eradicating the patient's cancer
  • safeguarding the nerves governing sexual function
  • preserving the nerves and muscles necessary to maintain normal urinary function.

Surgeons with the most extensive experience performing prostate surgery are more likely to achieve these important goals. Weill Cornell's surgeons have together performed thousands of radical prostatectomies using minimally invasive robotic and traditional open surgical techniques.

Robotic Surgery

Weill Cornell surgeons are leaders in the use of robotic prostatectomy, performing approximately 600 cases every year. Their contributions to development of this surgical technique have been recognized by multiple awards from surgical and urological societies. They have published and lectured extensively about this technologically advanced treatment approach.

Weill Cornell's urologic surgeons perform minimally invasive radical prostatectomy using a surgical robotic unit known as the da Vinci system, which enables surgeons to remove the prostate through a few small incisions in the patient's abdomen. Compared with open surgery, patients who have a robotic prostatectomy typically

  • have a shorter hospital stay
  • less blood loss
  • smaller incisions
  • a speedier recovery and return to normal activities.

In 2009, we received the prestigious Culters' Surgical Prize, an award presented by the Worshipful Company of Cutlers of London in conjunction with the Royal College of Surgeons, in recognition of an innovative approach to robotic prostatectomy devised at Weill Cornell which spares men from the need for a urinary catheter.

Open Radical Prostatectomy

Patients with certain prostate cancers may require open radical prostatectomy, an established effective surgical approach for the treatment of prostate cancer. Open surgery also enhances the surgeon's ability to remove more lymph nodes to examine for the presence of cancer cells compared to robotic prostatectomy. This traditional open surgical technique was refined through the work of urologists from Weill Cornell who provided critical information on the presence and location of nerves near the prostate that control sexual function and could be damaged during surgery.

For most men with localized prostate cancer, surgery may be the only treatment they need. Others, however, may need additional treatment such as hormonal therapy (to reduce the cancer-fueling effects of testosterone) or radiation therapy. Still others may benefit from new treatment approaches under evaluation in clinical trials.


Cryotherapy is a minimally invasive treatment in which small needles are inserted into the prostate to freeze and destroy prostate cancer cells. This outpatient therapy may be offered to men with low-risk localized prostate cancer or men with aggressive localized prostate cancer that has recurred following surgery or radiation therapy.

Radiation therapy

Weill Cornell's radiation oncologists are using advanced techniques to deliver high-energy radiation that targets tumor tissue while sparing nearby healthy tissue as much as possible. Men with localized prostate cancer may be candidates for brachytherapy, a form of targeted radiation therapy in which tiny radioactive seeds are surgically implanted into the prostate; low-level radiation from the seeds kills cancer cells. Other forms of radiation therapy rely on sophisticated computer technology—such as three-dimensional conformal radiation therapy, in which highly targeted radiation beams are shaped to the contours of a tumor, and intensity-modulated radiation therapy (IMRT), in which radiation beams of different intensities are targeted to the tumor.

More about radiation therapy for prostate cancer.

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