University of Rochester Medical Center Surgeon Offers New, Less-Invasive Prostate Procedure

April 23, 2002

Urologists from the University of Rochester Medical Center are providing men diagnosed with prostate cancer an alternative to open surgery – removal of the gland through laparoscopic surgery.

This technique is minimally invasive and growing more popular with men who want a quick recovery. The University of Rochester was the first in the state to offer it.

"I believe this will become the standard for prostate surgery in the near future," said surgeon Jean Joseph, M.D., assistant professor of urology. "It gets patients back to their normal lives much faster."

Joseph trained with world-renowned surgeon Bertrand Guillonneau, M.D., who developed the minimally invasive procedure for this common cancer. The University of Rochester Medical Center is a leader in urologic and cancer care and one of just nine academic medical institutions in the nation to offer this procedure.

In the United States, one in 10 men gets prostate cancer, making it one of the most common forms of cancer among men ages 45 and up. Approximately 32,000 men will die from it this year, and about 180,000 new cases will be diagnosed, according to the American Cancer Society.

Surgical removal of the prostate has long been the "gold standard" treatment for men with cancer confined to the prostate gland, an organ about the size of a walnut and located between the bladder and urethra which contributes fluids to semen. The traditional operation usually entails a longer hospital stay and recovery time.

Laparoscopy, also known as keyhole surgery, uses long, slender instruments inserted into the abdominal cavity and manipulated outside of the body. A voice-command robot is used to guide an internal camera, allowing a magnified view of internal organs and surgical instruments throughout the procedure.

"This is an excellent opportunity for area physicians, surgeons, oncologists and urologists to see a new surgical technique for treating prostate cancer," said Joseph.

Since the new procedure was developed in 1998, studies show that men recover more quickly – with a shortened hospital stay. Patients also have less pain and incontinence following the laparoscopic procedure.

"The laparoscopic technique applies state-of-the-art technology that we have used for removal of other urologic tumors, such as those on the kidney," said Joseph. "Patients benefit from the fact that we use smaller incisions and have significantly less blood loss. I think that in major teaching centers that promote minimally invasive techniques, this will ultimately become the surgical procedure of choice for the treatment of localized prostate cancer."

Prostate cancer is the second most common cancer in American men, behind skin cancer, and the second-leading cause of cancer deaths among males in the U.S., behind lung cancer.

"While screening and prevention are needed to curb the mortality from prostate cancer, improvement in the current treatment methods are also needed to help decrease the side-effects associated with treatment. I believe this is a great improvement," said Joseph.

The University of Rochester Medical Center was recognized by U.S. News & World Report for its urology and cancer care in 2000.

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Leslie White
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