Tuesday, March 6, 2012

What is the answer for prostate surgery?

Robotic surgeries for prostate cancer don't appear to have a better track record than open surgeries for avoiding the side effects of incontinence or sexual problems.

A study reported in the Journal of Clinical Oncology compared the rate of side effects for Medicare--age men who had robotic prostate removal compared to those who underwent open surgery.

The report's conclusions:

"Risks of problems with continence and sexual function are high after both procedures. Medicare-age men should not expect fewer adverse effects following robotic prostatectomy."

That's bad news for men who were sold on the robotic surgery to reduce the chance of side effects later on.

Of the men who responded to the survey, 31% reported a problem with incontinence and 88% of men reported having a moderate to major problem with sexual function. There didn't appear to be a significant difference between men who had robotic or open surgery.

A newsletter for the Oncology Nursing Society says the experience of the doctor may be more important than the method used:

"... the outcome of any type of procedure is based not only on the technology but also on the skill and experience of the provider and the hospital system. The researchers recommended that each man should know that the type of surgery he chooses is not as important as his surgeon's experience with that particular procedure..."

The report didn't compare the short-term recovery times comparing robotic and open surgeries.

In the long-term, it doesn't sound like there are any good choices between the two types of surgery. Finding the right surgeon might be the answer.