A quarter of prostate removals lead to incontinence, experience is key to success

Photo: Darnyi Zsóka via Wikimedia Commons
Photo: Darnyi Zsóka wikimedia commons

A quarter of all men who have to have their prostate removed because of cancer end up suffering from permanent incontinence, according to a study published by the Dutch medical journal Nederlands Tijschrift voor de Geneeskunde.

However, the chance of this happening in hospitals that perform the operation on over a hundred patients a year is 30% lower than in hospitals with doctors who have less experience of this type of surgery.

The study, by insurers and the organisation for urologists NVU, it the first one to give an insight into the number of patients suffering from permanent incontinence as a result of prostate removal.

It is also the first study to be based on insurance claims of patients, which, in this case, focused on claims for incontinence pads a year to fifteen months after the operation.

The NVU, which upped the minimum number of prostate removals to 50 per hospital at the beginning of the year, now recommends hospitals should carry out a minimum of a hundred operations a year.

‘The difference in results is remarkable,’ urologist and researcher Rik Somfors of the Canisius-Wilhelmina hospital told the Volkskrant.

This means that some hospitals will stop offering the operation altogether and patients will have to travel further. It is likely that money will be saved if the operations are performed by more experienced doctors but it is unknown how much that would be, the paper said.

Some two thousand prostate removal operations are performed each year in the Netherlands.

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