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Robotic Prostate Surgery Offers No Outcome Advantage Over Traditional Procedures: Study

More advanced, potentially costlier robotic prostate cancer surgery may offer no long-term benefit versus traditional procedures, according to a new study. In fact, the outcomes between robotic and traditional prostatectomies were found to be largely the same in the study that involved more than 300 men.

To arrive at their comparative findings, researchers split their study group into two segments. One group of men underwent traditional open surgery. The other group was treated using robotic technology. While the robotic surgery group lost less blood, experienced less pain and had shorter hospital stays, other factors were comparable between the two groups. Researchers found, for example, that both groups of men had to take the same number of days to recover and that rates of complications were similar.

When assessed at the three-month mark, researchers say, men reported similar rates of side effects. There was no significant difference in the rate of sexual dysfunction, urinary problems or infections between the two groups. Although preliminary, the initial findings indicate there may be no significant benefit of choosing robotic surgery versus traditional prostatectomy surgery.

The study, researchers say, will continue with follow-ups at different intervals out from the procedures. In the meantime, they say the findings indicate the importance of carefully weighing the overall benefits, risks and costs of procedures being selected to treat prostate cancer. While robotic prostatectomy may offer enhanced precision, the findings show a skilled surgeon can achieve similar results with a less costly open procedure.

An estimated 161,000 American men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer in the coming year. Some of these men will find their doctors recommending a radical prostatectomy to treat the disease. If the option is urged, men should discuss the potential benefits of open surgery versus robotic procedures with their healthcare providers. It is also strongly urged that men explore all their treatment options for the disease. In some cases, procedures like brachytherapy, may offer a less invasive way to treat cancerous cells.