Surgery is a common treatment for prostate cancer that hasn’t spread outside the prostate gland. While the main procedure (called a radical prostatectomy) removes the cancer—along with the entire prostate gland and some surrounding tissue—it also can cause major side effects, such as urinary incontinence and erectile dysfunction. The robotic-assisted laparoscopic approach to prostate cancer surgery available at Blount Memorial can limit side effects and speeds recovery. Blount Memorial board-certified urologist Dr. Rustan Van Wyk explains.
“I most certainly have seen a reduction in the degree of incontinence here at Blount Memorial among prostate cancer patients treated with robotic surgery,” says Van Wyk, who is specially trained to use the da Vinci Si, the world’s only robotic surgical system with 3D high-definition (HD) vision. “There also is a reduction in erectile difficulties. Of course, this is dependent upon whether or not erectile function was compromised prior to surgery and whether nerves can be spared based on the patient’s pathology [diagnosis].”
In addition to 3D HD views, the da Vinci Si system features tiny instruments that bend and rotate far greater than the human hand. As a result, specially trained surgeons such as Van Wyk can perform delicate, laparoscopic procedures in hard-to-access areas. For men who may be delaying or avoiding prostate cancer surgery due to fears about long-term side effects, the robotic-assisted approach (called robotic prostatectomy) at Blount Memorial could be a good option.
Adds Van Wyk, “The benefits of da Vinci robotic prostate cancer surgery largely come from the magnification, which affords greater visualization. Being able to clearly see and avoid significant structures, such as blood vessels and nerves, allows surgeons to potentially preserve erectile function. In addition, greater visualization at the urinary sphincter results in less incidence of postoperative urinary incontinence.”
According to Van Wyk, the typical hospital stay for robotic-assisted prostate cancer surgery at Blount Memorial rarely is more than a day or two. Patients eligible for the minimally-invasive procedure typically are under age 70 or 72, and have cancer (likely) confined within the prostate gland. Van Wyk adds that men with more invasive forms of prostate cancer also may benefit from the robotic-assisted laparoscopic approach.
“Recent studies have shown that people with higher risk cancer do better with prostatectomy versus the more conservative minimally invasive procedures,” he adds. “For this reason, they are also candidates for the da Vinci prostatectomy. I explain this to my patients if they are in this category.”
Van Wyk has extensive experience in treating prostate cancer and discusses all available treatment options with his patients. To schedule an appointment, call East Tennessee Medical Group Surgery and Urology, located in the Blount Memorial Physician Office Building, at 865-980-5260.