Minimally Invasive Prostate Cancer Surgery Performed at UMC
Surgeons at University Medical Center recently performed Tucson's first laparoscopic prostate removal surgery. UMC now is one of only a few medical centers in the United States to offer patients a new, less invasive option for the treatment of prostate cancer.
A walnut-sized gland located in front of the rectum, just below the bladder, the prostate holds seminal fluid before it is expelled during ejaculation. Prostate cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer in men and the second-leading cause of cancer death. The American Cancer Society estimates that about 200,000 new cases of prostate cancer will be diagnosed this year and more than 30,000 men will die from the disease.
If the disease is localized and the patient is healthy enough to withstand the surgery, prostate cancer can effectively be treated by removing the prostate and surrounding tissue, says Sanjay Ramakumar, MD, assistant professor of surgery, University of Arizona Department of Surgery Section of Urology. Called a radical prostatectomy, this complex procedure involves the surgeon attempting to not only remove the entire prostate along with cancerous tumor tissue, but also working to preserve continence (urine control) and spare nerves to avoid impotence.
In a tight space like the pelvis, those goals are difficult even for surgeons using the traditional, open surgical technique, which usually involves a 5- to 8-inch abdominal incision with four to six weeks of recovery, says Dr. Ramakumar. "Performing this procedure laparoscopically is probably the most complex surgery in urology today," he says.
Although challenging, surgeons now are beginning to offer laparoscopic prostate removal because of its potential advantages over the traditional open surgery, says Dr. Ramakumar. Because laparoscopic prostatectomy requires a only few small incisions, most men will have a shorter hospital stay and a faster recovery. There also is less blood loss with this technique.
Currently, the biggest drawback to laparoscopic radical prostatectomy is the surgery time; it requires almost twice the time of the open procedure. However, as surgeons gain expertise with the techniques, operating times decrease.
"This is the latest surgical advance for the treatment of prostate cancer and we believe this could potentially be better than open surgery," Dr. Ramakumar says.
EDITORS PLEASE NOTE: Video of the procedure is available. Patient interviews can be arranged by calling Jo Marie Gellerman at (520) 626-7219.