Robotic Procedure Improves Survival for Prostate Cancer Patients

It leaves fewer stray cancer cells after prostate removal, study shows

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MONDAY, May 21, 2007 (HealthDay News) -- Using robotic technology to perform laparoscopic radical prostatectomy (LRP) surgery may improve survival rates for prostate cancer patients, a new study suggests.

Prostatectomy involves removal of the prostate gland and some of the surrounding tissue.

Urologic oncologists at the Genitourinary Cancer Center at Thomas Jefferson University Hospital, in Philadelphia, compared 50 men who had robotic assisted laparoscopic prostatectomy (RALP) and 197 men who had conventional LRP.

They found that RALP helped reduce positive surgical margins. This refers to when cancer, seen under a microscope, goes to the edge of a tissue specimen, indicating that there are still cancerous cells in the patient.

The overall positive surgical margin rate for the men who had RALP was six percent, compared with 18 percent for the men who had LRP.

The study was slated to be presented Monday at the annual meeting of the American Urological Association, in Anaheim, Calif.

"We demonstrated a significant improvement in the positive surgical margin rate with the addition of robotics to an established LRP," Dr. Costas Lallas, assistant professor of urology, said in a prepared statement. He completed a robotic surgery fellowship at the Mayo Clinic.

"Several large studies have demonstrated that a positive surgical margin increases the chances that the prostate-specific antigen (PSA) -- a protein produced by the cells of the prostate gland -- will rise after surgery, and increase the chances that the disease will reoccur and progress," Dr. Edouard Trabulsi, a urologic oncologist and assistant professor of urology, said in a prepared statement.

"Therefore, any intervention or technique to lower positive surgical margins, we think, will translate into a better long-term cure rate," Trabulsi said.

More information

The American Academy of Family Physicians has more about prostate cancer treatment options.

SOURCE: Thomas Jefferson University, news release, May 21, 2007

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