MSNBC news anchor Chris Matthews, host of “Hardball With Chris Matthews,” is recovering from prostate cancer surgery, according to an announcement made on “Hardball”‘s official Twitter page.
“Chris hasn’t been here for the last few nights and we wanted to let you know why,” the tweet reads. “Chris is recovering from prostate cancer surgery last week. The procedure went well but he’s taking a few days to get back into fighting shape. He’s looking forward to getting back very soon.”
Chris hasn’t been here for the last few nights and we wanted to let you know why.Read MoreChris is recovering from prostate cancer surgery last week. The procedure went well but he’s taking a few days to get back into fighting shape. He’s looking forward to getting back very soon. pic.twitter.com/3ofupU3HJy
— Hardball (@hardball) October 15, 2019
Matthews, who is 73 years old, has not previously shared his prostate cancer diagnosis, and the stage of his cancer is not known. However, due to routine screening tests and effective treatments, prostate cancer has, on average, a 98 percent five-year survival rate, meaning that most men diagnosed with prostate cancer will go on to live at least five years. For men Matthew’s age, prostate cancer is exceedingly common, too; according to the National Cancer Institute, prostate cancer is the second most common cancer diagnosis in men over 65 years old (second only to skin cancer).
Prostate Cancer Surgery -- What Are the Possible Complications?
When is Surgery a Good Option for Prostate Cancer?
Two of the most common treatments for prostate cancer include surgery and radiation. Dr. Stephen Freedland, a urologist at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, told SurvivorNet that, ten years after prostate cancer treatment, most patients have similar results with surgery as they do with radiation.
What this means, in part, is that deciding on surgery versus radiation is a choice that often falls to the patient. Dr. Freedland shared that doctors will often have their own biases regarding which treatment method they prefer, so a lot of men will benefit from seeking second or third decisions before choosing radiation versus surgery.
Men who maintain sexual function
Roughly half of men who have the ability to have an erection before prostate cancer surgery will maintain this ability long-term.50%
What Does Prostate Cancer Surgery Entail?
The surgery to treat prostate cancer usually involves removing part or all of the prostate gland.
“It’s a big operation,” Dr. Freedland said, explaining that it’s usually done either through a minimally invasive robotic technique called a “laparoscopic” surgery, or through a longer incision that’s made from the belly button down to the pubic bone.
“Nowadays, the minimally invasive approaches are really standard procedure for most surgeries,” Dr. James Brooks, a urologic oncologist at Stanford Medicine, previously told SurvivorNet.
With the minimally invasive method, he said, patients usually have less blood loss and better recovery rates. The procedure tends to require at least a one night’s stay in the hospital, and then once home, Dr.Brooks said, “it’s really just recovering, gaining your strength back.” During the recovery period, a catheter usually remains inserted, which can come out about 10 days after the surgery.
“Whether you have [the surgery] open or robotic, I tell patients it’s probably a good month or so until you’re really back to yourself,” Dr. Brooks said.
Does Prostate Cancer Surgery Cause any Long-term Side Effects?
With prostate cancer surgery, a lot of men worry that the incisions will damage the nerves around their prostate glands, in turn affecting their sexual abilities.
The robotic method of surgery — which Dr. Brooks said is used in about 90 percent of prostatectomies these days — does allow for more precision than a human wrist.
“This allows greater precision when you’re doing very fine tasks such as nerve-sparing,” Dr. Jim Hu, a urologic oncologist at Weill Cornell Medicine and Director of the NewYork Presbyterian LeFrak Center for Robotic Surgery, previously told SurvivorNet.
Overall and with either surgery, though, the data shows that approximately 50 percent of men who have the ability to have an erection before surgery will maintain this ability long-term.
Dr. Jim Hu spoke with SurvivorNet about preserving sexual function after prostate cancer surgery.
According to the Prostate Cancer Foundation, the risk of erectile dysfunction varies according to a number of factors — including someone’s age and their individual cancer risk. For instance, if someone has lower-risk prostate cancer, they may be more likely to maintain erectile function because it will likely be easier to spare the nerves during surgery.