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Syracuse Man First to Undergo Robotic Cancer Surgery at Strong

Tuesday, March 16, 2004

As Glenn Moore prepares for his annual Thanksgiving celebration, he has plenty to be grateful for.  He’s healthy and free from prostate cancer, thanks to cutting-edge robotic surgery at Strong Memorial Hospital in Rochester.

Surgeons at Strong and its James P. Wilmot Cancer Center are the first in Upstate New York to use a high-tech robotic system to ensure greater precision while performing surgery. Moore was the first man to undergo the procedure.

The Syracuse public works employee was diagnosed with prostate cancer in May and decided to have the organ removed through laparoscopy, a minimally invasive surgical technique that results in less pain and faster recovery. 

Prostate cancer is the second most common form of cancer in men and affects about 220,000 U.S. men each year.  The prostate gland is about the size of a walnut and located between the bladder and urethra. 

“I wanted to get the best surgery I could get,” says Moore, father of two.  “The surgeons said using the robot makes the surgery even better.  That was OK with me.”

The daVinci Surgical System provides surgeons a three-dimensional view inside the body as they remove the prostate, giving them the feel of an open surgery while performing a minimally invasive procedure. 

Strong added the robotic system to allow urology and cardiac surgeons perform the procedures laparoscopically, eliminating the need for large incisions. The leading-edge technology consists of a robotic arm that performs surgeries using movements that replicate a surgeon’s motions. The movements are controlled from across the room, by a surgeon using virtual images provided by laparoscopic cameras.

“This system truly enhances the images and it is dramatically better.  The magnified 3-D view improves the accuracy and precision,” says Jean V. Joseph, M.D., the urologic surgeon who performed Moore’s procedure.

The benefits of the robotic technology have a significant impact on patients and their outcomes. Because the cases are done laparoscopically, dime-sized incisions are made that result in faster recovery time and a lower chance of infection or other complications.  The procedures themselves can be even more accurate than traditional surgery, with steadier “hands” at the surgical site being directed by a surgeon.

Moore underwent the procedure on July 2nd and traveled back to his Slocum Avenue home two days later.  After three weeks of recovery – about half the time needed for traditional “open” surgery – he returned to work for the city of Syracuse.

“It feels good to be back to work and my regular routine,” Moore says.  “I’m grateful that everything worked out so well and I can put this behind me.”

Using the robotic surgical system, patients are surrounded by medical personnel, yet the surgeon is located at a console a few feet away.

Supporting surgical team members prepare small incisions in the patient, install the correct instruments, and supervise the laparoscopic arms and tools being used.  The  instruments are designed with seven degrees of motion to mimic the dexterity of the human wrist. Each instrument has a specific surgical mission such as clamping, suturing and tissue manipulation.

Although the surgeon is not physically in contact with the patient, the daVinci control console allows the surgeon to actually see the surgical field in enhanced detail as a result of the three-dimensional image transmitted from the laparoscopic cameras. The surgeon manipulates the robotic “hands” in real-time using master controls, seeing minute, 3-D details inside the patient with the aid of the cameras located inside the patient.  The two robotic arms and one laparoscopic arm execute the surgeon’s commands.

The robotic system also enhances the accuracy of delicate maneuvers such as repetitive stitching and suturing. “It’s almost like comparing a sewing machine to hand stitching,” Messing says.

Currently, surgeons for the Wilmot Cancer Center at Strong are performing about three of the robotic surgeries each week. 

The Wilmot Cancer Center is a leader in cancer care and research in Upstate New York.   For more information about cancer treatment, go to or call 1-866- 4Wilmot.


Facts about prostate cancer:

Prostate cancer can often be found early by testing the amount of prostate-specific antigen (PSA) in blood. Prostate cancer may also be found when a doctor does a digital rectal examination (DRE).

  • Prostate cancer is nearly always curable if detected at its earliest stages.
  • The American Cancer Society recommends men should begin annual prostate cancer screenings at age 50, unless they have relatives who have had prostate cancer or are African-American, and they could begin testing at 45.
  • Prostate cancer is the most common type of cancer found in American men, other than skin cancer. There will be about 220,900 new cases of prostate cancer in the United States this year. About 28,900 men will die of this disease.
  • Prostate cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death in men, exceeded only by lung cancer. While one man in six will get prostate cancer during his lifetime, only one man in 32 will die of this disease.
  • African-American men are more likely to have prostate cancer and to die of the disease than are white or Asian men. The reasons for this are still not known.
  • The chance of having prostate cancer increases rapidly after age 50. More than 70 percent of all prostate cancers are diagnosed in men over the age of 65. It is still unclear why this increase with age occurs for prostate cancer.


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