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Robotic Prostate Cancer Surgery

A Great Choice

Ron Williame is a prostate cancer patientUxbridge resident Ron Willame, 60, was already aware that he had a slightly swollen prostate when his primary care physician detected several lumps in his prostate during a rectal exam. A biopsy performed by his urologist Sanjaya Kumar, MD, brought bad news… the presence of early stage (low risk) prostate cancer. However, the good news is that Ron had options.

In addition to external beam radiation, brachytherapy and watchful waiting, Ron was also a good candidate for a radical prostatectomy, a surgical procedure to remove the prostate gland. “We select patients (for this procedure) who are primarily in the low-risk category and who have a high likelihood of cure with surgery,” explains Dr. Kumar, urologist and robotic surgeon at Milford Regional. Surgical options for a radical prostatectomy included an open procedure, a laparoscopic approach, or a new, minimally-invasive laparoscopic approach— robotic-assisted surgery with the da Vinci Surgical System.

Robotic-assisted laparoscopic radical prostatectomy is surgery done through small incisions in the stomach with robotic arms that translate the surgeon’s hand motions into finer and more precise action. Robotic-assisted procedures offer surgeons the most precision, says Dr. Kumar. “In pure laparoscopic procedures, the instruments are rigid and straight. They’re limited in their ability to move,” he notes. “Robotic instruments have more freedom to move. The precision is transmitted from the tips of your fingers to the instruments.”

Other benefits of robotic-assisted surgery to the patient include minimal blood loss, a shorter hospital stay and less time spent using a catheter.

According to Dr. Kumar, men who have experienced several prior abdominal operations or who have a very large prostate may not be the best candidates for the robotic approach. “Other than that, most patients who are candidates for an open prostatectomy are candidates for the robotic-assisted approach,” he states.

Ron got a second opinion and did his own research online. His work background in medical devices also provided a greater depth of understanding concerning robotic technology. “From all of the information I could gather, the robotic procedure was the way to go,” he says with certainty.

Following his robotic-assisted radical prostatectomy, Ron remembers very little pain. “Nurses asked me about my pain,” he recalls, “and I said nothing hurts. I really didn’t need any medication. I felt nothing!”

Ron’s catheter was removed after 10 days, and although he felt well enough to go back to work immediately, he chose to take some additional time to heal. Today, Ron is cancer-free, back to work, and back to enjoying a very full and active life that includes multiple hobbies from hunting and fishing to golfing and weight lifting. He is grateful for a quick and smooth recovery that helped him better prepare for a recent 10-day hiking trip.

Ron encourages others to consider the robotic-assisted approach to radical prostatectomy. “Don’t be afraid. Robotic surgery is a great choice,” he says emphatically. “It beats having an open procedure.”

Go to In Their Own Words


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