Is laparoscopic radical prostatectomy a better choice than traditional prostate cancer surgery? Although it has been used since 1999 in America there are no long-term study results from surgeries performed in the United States.
But there are known recovery benefits of this approach for removing the prostate gland.
How it differs from traditional radical prostatectomy
With laparoscopic radical prostatectomy, several long instruments are used. They include a thin lighted tube with a small video camera that help guide prostate removal, which are actually inserted into the body through small incisions.
It is possible for the surgeon to use a nerve-sparing approach and remove lymph nodes, if necessary.
But you should know that the surgeon cannot use his/her hands to feel the prostate.
This procedure may also take longer to perform than some of the other traditional surgical approaches.
Tougher to master?
Some believe that laparoscopic radical prostatectomy is definitely more challenging for some surgeons to learn.
It has been suggested that a surgeon must perform at least 250 open radical prostatectomies to become proficient at this technique while that “magic” number jumps to 750 for laparoscopic surgeries.
With any surgical approach for prostate cancer, the skill and experience of the surgeon are the most important factors for success.
That’s why it is so important to do your homework and make sure that you choose a surgeon who has “the best hands.”
Definitely ask the surgeon how many of these surgeries he or she has performed. Another good question is whether the surgeon has only performed this type of surgery from the beginning of his or her career (as opposed to switching techniques).
Because smaller incisions are used, there may be:
- Less bleeding
- Less pain
- A shorter hospital stay (often no more than a day)
- A shorter recovery time
Your loved one will still need to have a catheter for the same length of time as with traditional radical prostatectomy — typically about 1 to 2 weeks.
According to the American Cancer Society, the rates of side effects for this approach are similar to traditional radical prostatectomy.
They also report that recovery of bladder control may take slightly longer.
The American Cancer Society. Prostate Cancer. http://www.cancer.org. Accessed March 17, 2015.
US TOO International, Inc. Pathways for new prostate cancer patients. http://www.ustoo.com. Accessed September 1, 2009.