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Study Reports Growing Number of Treatments for Prostate Cancer


Thousands of men are diagnosed with prostate cancer every year. And as VOA's Pat Harris reports, sometimes choosing a treatment can be difficult.

A new study by doctors at the Beth Israel Center in New York reports there are a growing number of treatments for prostate cancer, but each has its own risks.

Lewis Weitzner's mother died of ovarian cancer when she was 57 years old. Last year at at age 51, he was diagnosed with prostate cancer. He said it was easy for him to choose a treatment.

"I was already sure I wanted it removed with surgery. I did not want to play around."

Lewis chose the newest prostate surgery, a Robotic Radical Prostatectomy. The surgeon operates robotic arms, which use tiny instruments to perform the actual surgery.

Dr. John Phillips at the Beth Israel Medical Center said there's hardly any bleeding. "The sheer absence of bleeding allows for a pristine field and allows you to identify all the structures you normally have a difficult time seeing through traditional open surgery."

Dr. Phillips said it also has other advantages for patients. "Patients have quicker recovery and overall do better, get out of the hospital faster and have less pain."

But another study reports the advantages of robotic surgery are insignificant when compared to traditional open surgery that is done successfully.

Dr. Peter Albertson at the University of Connecticut. "Is it cheaper? No. Does it get the patient out significantly earlier? No. Does it lead to higher rates of continence? No. Does it improve sexual function afterwards? We don't think so. So then the question is, 'what is the advance?' "

Many experts believe that robotic surgery is often excessively promoted. Dr. Albertson said choosing an experienced surgeon is more important than choosing between traditional or robotic surgery.

"This is a slow-growing tumor so there's no urgency to race off and make a decision."

Lewis Weitzner said robotic surgery was the right decision for him. "I have no reason to look back and say, 'Gee should I have done it another way.' None."

Some researchers say men should take their time when choosing treatments for prostate cancer.

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