The gold standard treatment option for men under 70 with early-stage, organ-confined cancer
is surgical removal of the prostate using nerve-sparing radical prostatectomy. Prostatectomy is
also the most widely used treatment for prostate cancer today in the US.(1)
The primary goal of prostatectomy is removal of the cancer. A secondary goal is to preserve
urinary function and -- when applicable -- erectile function. Preservation of the nerves
necessary for erections can be an extremely important goal for patients. These nerves run
alongside the prostate and are often damaged when removing the prostate. A nerve-sparing
prostatectomy attempts to preserve these nerves so that the patient may be able to return to his
prior erectile function.
Types of Prostatectomy
Approaches to this procedure include traditional open surgery, conventional laparoscopic
surgery or da Vinci ® Prostatectomy, which is a robot-assisted laparoscopic surgery.
With a traditional open procedure, your surgeon uses a 4-5 inch incision to access the
prostate. This approach can results in some blood loss, a 2-3 day hospitalization, requires a
recovery period and has a risk of impotence and incontinence.
Conventional laparoscopy uses a specialized surgical camera and rigid instruments to access
and remove the prostate using a series of small incisions. This approach provides your
surgeon with better visualization than an open approach. In addition, it provides patients the
benefits of a minimally invasive procedure.
Despite these advantages, conventional laparoscopy relies on rigid instruments and standard
2D video, technical limitations that can be challenging for the surgeon. Because of these
drawbacks, conventional laparoscopy doesn’t lend itself well to complex procedures like
prostatectomy. Therefore, very few urologists use this approach for prostatectomy. Moreover,
neither laparoscopy nor open surgery can provide adequate visualization for a very precise,
nerve-sparing prostatectomy. In January of 2007, the National Comprehensive Cancer
Network added the da Vinci® Robotic Assisted Laparoscopic Radical Prostatectomy to the list
of options for treatment of early stage prostate cancer given their potential benefits over
Read about the potentially most effective, least invasive approach to prostatectomy – da Vinci®
1. The National Prostate Cancer Coalition: www.fightprostatecancer.org home > treatment
& research > treatment options > surgery
While clinical studies support the effectiveness of the da Vinci® System when used in
minimally invasive surgery, individual results may vary. Surgery with the da Vinci Surgical
System may not be appropriate for every individual. Always ask your doctor about all treatment
options, as well as their risks and benefits.
For additional information on minimally invasive surgery with the da Vinci® Surgical System
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Last Modified - 12/17/2010