Marking a major milestone in what has become a fast-growing standard of care in prostate cancer surgery, the chief of urologic oncology at The Cancer Institute of New Jersey has completed his 1,000th robotic prostatectomy at Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital (RWJUH), the Flagship Hospital of The Cancer Institute of New Jersey, which is a Center of Excellence of the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey-Robert Wood Johnson Medical School (RWJMS).
Isaac Kim, MD, PhD, associate professor of surgery at RWJMS, performed the operation recently on a Newark man diagnosed with high-risk localized prostate cancer. Robotic prostatectomy allows a surgeon to control a set of robotic arms that hold tiny surgical instruments used to remove the patient's cancer. Unlike the traditional open method of prostate surgery that results in a six-inch scar in the abdominal area, patients who undergo this minimally-invasive surgical technique are left with incisions smaller than a dime. In the U.S., robotic prostatectomy is being performed on 85 percent of men who have their prostate removed (Journal of Clinical Oncology - doi: 10.1200/JCO.2011.36.862). This compares to only 10 percent of men a decade ago after the procedure first received FDA approval and started to be widely used.
Along with a minimally-invasive approach, the procedure allows for additional precision with a 3-D view of the tissue and delicate nerves that envelop the prostate. Reduced blood loss, shorter hospital stays and a faster time to achieve full continence are also hallmarks of the procedure. "During the seven year period during which I performed my 1,000 procedures, the blood transfusion rate was only 0.3 percent and the duration of the hospital stay was only one day in 95 percent of the patients. Simultaneously, rate of recovery of urinary continence and sexual function remain high," noted Dr. Kim, who is also the executive director of the Dean and Betty Gallo Prostate Cancer Center at The Cancer Institute of New Jersey.
Recent patient Sidney Travis had his cancer detected through a prostate exam during a regular check-up with his physician this past spring. He had just turned 50, and his girlfriend - a registered nurse - encouraged him to have it done.