Prostate Cancer Survivor’s Story of a Robotic Prostatectomy Redo

28 March 2011

In the past month I’ve made two blog posts about how experience is such a key factor when dealing with robotic prostate cancer treatment.  Men who are overweight and men who have had radiation therapy before surgery are often told they’re not candidates for a robotic prostatectomy, but the truth of the matter is that many surgeons just don’t have the necessary training to help these men.

For some men this is something that they have to find out first-hand.  Last month I operated on a man named Steven M. who went through an experience that no man should.  In late 2009 he was diagnosed with prostate cancer.  Like every man in his position should he researched not only his treatment options but also his doctors.  He ultimately decided on a robotic prostatectomy as he is young and wasn’t satisfied with the long-term outcomes of radiation therapy.  He also chose a doctor who had performed 600 successful prostatectomy operations with the da Vinci robot – a number he thought was more than enough for proficiency.  He saw the doctor for a consultation and was told he was a great candidate for the procedure.  Steve was doing everything by the book and everything I would suggest of a man in his circumstances.

The day of the operation he entered the operating room expecting to be cured.  He was put under general anesthesia, ready to have his life given back to him.  Upon waking up 2 hours later he was instead given some bad news: the doctor told Steve that he had to abort the procedure because he felt there was too much risk in damaging his lungs due to the pressure being put on them by his weight.  Steve was devastated, and felt defeated.

A patient of mine, who met Steve through a friend, called me one day to tell me about his situation and gave me Steve’s phone number.    I gave Steve a call and convinced him to come to New York for a consultation.  When I looked at the areas where his previous doctor had made the incisions to place the robotic arms I could tell things were not right.  I told Steve I was confident that I could help him and he had faith in me.

On February 14th of this year Steve came in for his operation.  His weight was not an issue.  In fact, the surgery went incredibly well and was completed in just under an hour.  In just over a month he has fully regained his urinary control and his sexual function is making a return.

Steve’s story is really a touching one, especially when reading it in his own words.  If you would like to read the full story complete with quotes directly from Steve I urge you to click here.  What people need to take away from this is that you should never let cancer make you feel defeated.  Explore all of your options, and if one doctor tells you they can’t help you, get a second opinion.

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