Transurethral resection of the prostate (TURP) is necessary in a significant proportion of men with a diagnosis of carcinoma of the prostate. Often, "channel" TURP (resection of visually obstructing tissue without extension to the prostatic capsule in a patient with metastatic or locally advanced disease to improve voiding symptoms) is required. Although several theoretical concerns regarding the efficacy and morbidity of this procedure have been voiced, data to support these contentions are lacking. In a review of 41 patients undergoing channel TURP, all were able to void following the procedure. Two patients in whom the resection was carried through the external urinary sphincter, which had been invaded by tumor, were incontinent postoperatively. Two patients had mild stress incontinence. There were no perioperative deaths. These data suggest that incontinence is higher than expected with TURP for benign disease but that results may be acceptable to the patient with significant outlet obstructive symptoms.