Ask the Expert: What You Should Know About Prostate Cancer

Dr. Julian Anthony
According to the American Cancer Society, prostate cancer is among the most commonly diagnosed cancers, affecting one in six U.S. men. Today, due to early detection and aggressive monitoring and treatment, prostate cancer survival rates are among the highest of any cancer.

Surgical treatment options for prostate cancer include robotic surgery, a minimally invasive procedure to remove the prostate. Dr. Julian Anthony, a Sharp Grossmont Hospital-affiliated urologist, is specially trained to perform robotic prostate surgery using the da Vinci® robotic surgical system. He answers a few questions about prostate cancer and treatment using robotic surgery.

What are the most important facts that men should know about prostate cancer and prevention?
Prostate cancer in its early stages tends to be an asymptomatic disease. It is not until it has become more advanced and spread to surrounding organs that patients usually develop symptoms. For this reason, screening for prostate cancer is a very important aspect of men's health. Prostate cancers that are detected early give patients more treatment options. Patients also tend to have a better prognosis and survival when prostate cancer is detected early.

How does robotic surgery differ from traditional surgery in treating prostate cancer?
Traditional surgery for prostate cancer has involved an incision made from just below the belly button to the pubic bone. The da Vinci prostatectomy involves five dime-sized holes through which instruments and a camera are inserted to perform the procedure. The instruments and camera are then connected to the da Vinci robotic system which the surgeon controls while sitting at a console positioned next to the operating room table.

Postoperative pain is less with the da Vinci prostatectomy because of the less-invasive incisions. As a result, patients use less pain medication, have a shorter hospital stay, return to normal activities and work sooner and have their catheters removed sooner. This also results in less blood loss and need for transfusion as compared to traditional surgery.

Does da Vinci prostatectomy result in a higher cancer cure rate than conventional surgery?
Yes, it does result in a higher cancer cure rate when compared to open surgery. The da Vinci system's magnified and 3-D high-definition image provides better visualization for the surgeon. This results in a lower rate of positive margins because the surgeon is able to better differentiate between normal prostate, prostate cancer and surrounding tissues. The surgeon is then able to do a better job of removing all of the cancer and leaving normal surrounding structures uninjured.

Does da Vinci cost more than traditional surgery, and does insurance cover it?
No, robotic-assisted surgery does not cost the patient any more than traditional surgery and insurances do cover it.

For More Information
To find out more, visit Robotic Prostate Surgery.

To learn more about Sharp's men's health services or to find a Sharp-affiliated physician, search for San Diego robotic prostate surgeons or call 1-800-82-SHARP (1-800-827-4277), Monday through Friday, 8 am to 6 pm.