If you knew you might have only one chance to defeat prostate cancer what would you do? This is a decision that many American men face annually. Advances in technology and robotics have opened the door to alternative laparoscopic procedure.
A laparoscopic procedure used to treat prostate cancer is known as the da Vinci Radical Prostatectomy. This surgery was initially hailed as a dramatic advancement in prostate cancer surgery because of its quick recovery time and decreased blood loss (relative to traditional open radical prostatectomy). However, the robotic radical procedure has recently come under scrutiny for having an increased chance of long term complications. Given this new information, each man considering prostate cancer treatment options should question what the trade off he is is willing to take for comfort over potential effectiveness.
Short Term Comfort versus Potential Effectiveness:
How much are you willing to sacrifice for effectiveness? It is not an easy question to answer, especially with the ease some patients have reported in recovering from a robotic radical prostatectomy procedure. In many instances men experience a hospital stay of less than two days, with less pain and less blood loss. From a first impression standpoint the surgery seems like a natural choice and maintains this impression until you start to review long term data.
The Most Effective Prostate Cancer Cure Rates:
Prostate cancer patients look to an open prostatectomy when they need assurance of effectiveness and cure rates. The open prostatectomy, as performed by Dr. Patrick Walsh at Johns Hopkins University, has the second-highest documented cure rates in the world at 80%.
The physicians that maintain the highest documented cure rates in the world are located in Georgia at Radiotherapy Clinics of Georgia (RCOG), home of the oldest and largest seed implant program for prostate cancer in the country. The overall cure rate for prostate cancer at RCOG is 84%.
Being effective means using the same standards for cure rates. Prostate cancer cure rates should be calculated using a PSA cutpoint of 0.2 ng/ml, which provides an “apples to apples” comparison of treatment options. Any man facing a decision about prostate cancer treatment options has to consider two things – what treatment gives the best opportunity to be cured of this disease, and what are the complication rates for each treatment option.
ProstRcision Prostate Cancer Treatment:
The ProstRcision prostate cancer treatment relies on two forms of radiation therapy, brachytherapy and external beam treatment, to destroy the cancer cells. The first patient was treated with this procedure in 1979 and annually about 1,000 men elect for this operation. Currently Radiotherapy Clinics of Georgia is the only location where this prostate cancer treatment is available. Over 12,000 men for all 50 states and over 40 countries have journeyed to RCOG to seek cure of their prostate cancer.
Consider the Long Term Risk:
So much is known and has been discussed about the robotic radical prostatectomy procedure. The da Vinci Radical Prostatectomy might provide the benefit of short term comfort relative to the traditional radical, but compared to the ProstRcision procedure performed at RCOG, it’s actually more arduous. ProstRcision is an outpatient procedure – men go home the same day.
Also, it is critical to consider the long term risk. In a May, 2008 published study Dr. Jim C. Hu examined the outcome of minimally invasive radical prostatectomy procedures. Notably patients of the robotic radical procedure had a 40 percent increased risk of scarring that interfered with organ function when compared to patients that elected for an open prostatectomy. To correct this additional corrective surgery could be required.
There was also a noticeable difference in need for hormonal or drug therapy six months after surgery. Patients of a laparoscopy procedure typically needed this additional treatment almost a quarter of the time, compared to about ten percent of open prostatectomy patients.
Selecting the Right Treatment:
Finding the right treatment begins with doing your research. The opening sentence discussed the concept of having only one opportunity to defeat prostate cancer. It is a tough subject to deal with. Ask questions. Ask about the short term and the long term impact of different treatment options. Work with your doctor to tailor treatment to your condition. Your decision around your treatment could be the biggest decision you make in your life.