New surgical technique for prostate surgery can speed recovery

Other than skin cancer, prostate cancer is the most common cancer in American men.

The American Cancer Society's estimates for prostate cancer in the United States for 2019 are about 174,650 new cases of prostate cancer and about 31,620 deaths from prostate cancer. Prostate cancer develops mainly in older men and in African American men. About six cases in 10 are diagnosed in men aged 65 or older, and it is rare before age 40.

The average age at the time of diagnosis is about 66. Prostate cancer can be a serious disease, but most men diagnosed with prostate cancer do not die from it. In fact, more than 2.9 million men in the United States who have been diagnosed with prostate cancer at some point are still alive today.

Surgery is a common choice to try to cure prostate cancer if it is not thought to have spread outside the prostate gland. The main type of surgery for prostate cancer is a radical prostatectomy. In this operation, the surgeon removes the entire prostate gland plus some of the tissue around it, including the seminal vesicles.

A radical prostatectomy can be done in different ways. The major possible side effects of radical prostatectomy are urinary incontinence (being unable to control urine) and erectile dysfunction (impotence, problems getting or keeping erections).

The University of Alabama at Birmingham has become one of only 15 medical sites in the country with the new da Vinci SP single port surgical system by Intuitive Surgical. Dr. Jeffrey Nix, director of robotic surgery at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, said "We're trying to continue to push the frontier of what we can do minimally invasively.

It becomes less about the number of incisions and more about what's the end goal? Can we do surgeries that we couldn't do before minimally? For example, can we carry this off label? Can we use these skills in this minimally invasive approach to do things we couldn't do before? Can we do the same operation that we would do open and do it with less morbidity for the patients? And one of the factors that is constantly looked at here is length of stay in the hospital."