Surgical Options for Prostate Cancer

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With my patients that have prostate cancer who wish to discuss the surgical options I always discuss the three options. 

Number one, open surgery, number two, keyhole laparoscopic surgery and number three, keyhole robot assisted surgery. 

Open surgery in my view used to be the gold standard. 

My fellowship was in prostate cancer and I performed an extensive number of these procedures. 
I presented this nationally and I had excellent outcomes. 

I was very happy with the outcomes and the results but there were some problems with open surgery, there was significant blood loss which was often unpredictable, it was very hard to get access because the prostate is in a deep inaccessible area and it’s sometimes difficult to do an accurate anastomosis rejoin. 

Sometimes it’s also hard to do a proper nerve sparing procedure because of the blood loss that can occur.

So the operation is done with an incision, usually in the lower abdomen between the umbilicus or belly button and the pubic bone. 

It usually takes about two to two and a half hours. 

Patients are usually in hospital for seven to 10 days and recovery is variable but usually one to two months, sometimes a bit longer. 

This data has been presented and I was very happy with the outcomes. 

Because of the concerns though and the potential side effects I then started offering laparoscopic surgery or keyhole laparoscopic surgery and this particularly suited me.

I did play a lot of sports and was fortunate to play at a representative level in New South Wales. 

Prior to med school I was lucky enough to do that and I think the hand, eye coordination that I had in those sports really helped to transfer these to the operating room with laparoscopy.

With laparoscopy what we do is we make small incisions in the abdomen, we insert instruments into the patient and this is an example of a laparoscopic port that gets inserted and that goes into the patient and subsequently what we do is we put instruments through this and the instruments for example a pair of scissors go through the laparoscopic port and get inserted into the patient. 

We then can open and close the scissors and we move these instruments. 

Now to move the instrument to the left you’ll see on the outside we actually have to move it to the right. 

So it’s a bit counterintuitive and the instrument can’t rotate but there is gas pressure in the abdomen which is higher than the vein pressure so there’s less bleeding, there’s more magnified view and we can get access to a deep inaccessible area.

With regards to laparoscopy I visited numerous centres in the world and I was very fortunate to be personally trained by the pioneers in laparoscopy surgery in the world. 

These include Claude ABoo, Bertrand Guillonneau, Professor Valencian, Indupi Gul and Chris Eden. 

They’re the world authorities on laparoscopic surgery, three or four of them have actually personally taught me how to laparoscopic surgery. 

I conducted a workshop in Australia and was one of the first surgeons in Australia to do this.

So although I was quite happy with the outcomes of laparoscopic surgery it is quite difficult to do, it takes a substantial amount of time sometime and at the end of the procedure you’re quite tired and the most difficult part, the anastomosis or the join is very difficult to do because the instruments don’t bend. 

So for me there were some concerns about laparoscopy. 

And fortunately about three or four years ago. 

We had a robot donated or partly donated to us through the cardiothoracic department actually with the donors and fortunately I was chosen to lead the robotic program and I pioneered the use of the robot in Urology. 

Initially it was quite difficult to do and it took a substantial time period but fortunately because I had the experience with laparoscopic surgery it was much easier for me and I had a very short learning curve. 

I believe the robot did lead to better outcomes in my patients and hence a significant part of my practice is now, it now involves robotic prostatectomy and this is really patient driven and we’ve been very happy with these outcomes. 

So I offer my patients open laparoscopic and robot assisted surgery. 

I describe the pros and cons of all