Dr. Raghunath S.K, Senior Consultant & Director, Uro-Oncology and Robotic Surgery, HCG Cancer Hospital, Bengaluru.
Prostate cancer is one of the most common types of cancer amongst men, which affects the prostate gland, a small walnut-shaped gland in males that produces seminal fluid and nourishes and transports sperm. The spectrum of prostate cancer varies from trivial to severe forms. While some prostate cancers grow very slowly and are just restricted to the prostate gland, there are some which may turn aggressive and lethal.
Early detection of the signs and timely clinical intervention make prostate cancer treatable
The most common symptoms of prostate cancer are trouble urinating, decreased flow of urine stream, blood in the urine or that in the semen, bone pain, weight loss and erectile dysfunction. Although the symptoms are non-specific for prostate cancer, detection is usually done by screening blood test, which is for PSA (Prostate Specific Antigen). The gravity of the disease is difficult to identify by just the blood test. Various forms of further assessments are required to classify the disease. The severe ones spread quickly and immediate intervention is required.
Likewise, the non-serious ones can be potentially curable by early treatment. Thus, the role of early detection in prostate cancer is critical. It is essential to be aware of the early signs and reach out for prompt help. Cutting-edge technology like that of a robot-assisted prostate cancer surgery marks a medical breakthrough in oncology.
All about robotic surgery for prostate cancer
The robot is a sophisticated surgical platform used by oncologists for removing the cancerous tissues in the prostate gland with utmost precision. Unlike conventional surgery, robot-assisted laparoscopic prostatectomy is minimally invasive. This means only one or two small incisions are made for the procedure resulting in lesser pain, lesser risk of infection, reduced blood loss, rapid recovery and lesser hospital stay. Also, the robotic system provides a magnified view, 3-D view of the prostatic area during the surgery for the surgeons, making it more convenient and accurate for them, enabling them to remove the affected tissues without harming the surrounding nerves or organs.
Merits of robotic prostate surgery
Reduced Post-operative pain: In a robot-assisted surgery, only a few small incisions are made while performing the surgery. As a result, there is minimal blood loss, decreased postoperative pain, early recovery and less scarring.
It helps in quick recovery: A robotic surgery ensures minimal invasiveness, avoiding large cuts and dissections, thereby causing rapid recovery. Postoperative complications are also less. This means a cut down in the post-operative stay at the hospital and a reduction in the total cost. Also, the patient quickly gets the bladder control back.
It is more technical, precise and accurate: It makes the surgeon better equipped and more precise thereby attaining maximum accuracy. Also, technically, the robotic arms move freely without any vibrations.
Robotic surgery over a traditional laparoscopic surgery
In conventional laparoscopy, a surgeon has to hold instruments and view the surgical area through an endoscopic camera that projects an image on the monitor while conducting the procedure. This procedure has certain movement limitations which could be overcome by a robot-assisted surgery. In robotic surgery, the surgeon utilizes a control panel to move the robotic arms and operate through small incisions in the abdomen with the maximum degree of freedom of movement which is more that of laparoscopy and human hand. Therefore, as opposed to conventional open or laparoscopic surgeries, robotic arms allow an improved movement over traditional tools.
A robot-aided prostate cancer surgery requires a well-equipped infrastructure, state-of-the-art technology and the expertise of doctors who are well-versed with the system.