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Fall 2006

Robotic Prostate Cancer Surgery Offered to Patients

Robotically assisted minimally invasive surgery is one of several options for UCLA patients

UCLA is achieving results with robotically assisted minimally invasive prostate cancer surgery that are equivalent to the traditional open surgical approach to nervesparing radical prostatectomy, according to Robert Reiter, M.D., co-director of the UCLA Prostate Cancer Program. He has performed more than 100 of the procedures since UCLA began using the robots more than two years ago.

The ability to achieve results that are comparable to open surgery, when it comes to eliminating cancer and preserving sexual potency and urinary continence, makes the robotic approach attractive to many early-stage prostate cancer patients. It offers the advantages of shorter hospital stays and recovery times and less blood loss, pain and scarring.

Minimally invasive (laparoscopic) prostatectomy capitalizes on the latest fiber optics technology to enable surgeons to poke needle-sized holes into patients, obtain pictures of the surgical site with 15-fold magnification, and insert miniaturized instruments to remove the prostate. Robotic instruments have improved surgical precision.

For patients undergoing robotic prostatectomy, UCLA also has begun to incorporate a new imaging technique prior to the surgery. Endorectal magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) uses a magnetic coil to produce better pictures of the cancer. This is combined with MR spectroscopy-which measures biochemicals known to be present at lower levels where there is prostate cancer -to give the surgeon a better roadmap prior to the procedure.

The robotically assisted minimally invasive surgery is one of several options offered at UCLA for patients with early-stage, localized prostate cancer, Dr. Reiter notes. Each has its own pros and cons on issues of efficacy and quality-of-life impact.

In addition to offering all existing treatments, the UCLA Prostate Cancer Program monitors the results of each approach in an effort to provide better clarity for future decisions; conducts research leading to new therapies; and makes experimental treatments available to high-risk patients through clinical trials.
For more information, call the Department of Urology at 310-794-7700.

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