M. David Gershbaum, M.D.
The prostate is a small gland localized within the male reproductive system. The function of the prostate is to produce a fluid that keeps the sperm alive while it travels through the female reproductive system. The fluid from the prostate and sperm for the testis and fluids from smaller gland in the male system form the male ejaculate otherwise known as semen. Prostate cancer is a relatively common. In fact, it is the most common cancer in men and third cause of cancer death.www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/types/commoncancers In 2008, over 900,000 men were diagnosed with prostate cancer. Screening for prostate cancer typically starts between the ages of 40 and 50 in men with no family history and no later then age 40 for patients with a primary relative with prostate cancer. The screening usually consists of a rectal exam along and a PSA level. If the PSA is elevated or the rate of increase of the PSA from baseline is significant, a prostate biopsy may be warranted.
If the biopsy confirms prostate cancer, the disease can be treated in various ways depending on the age and the medical condition of the patient. Several options for treatment are available including watchful waiting, hormonal manipulation, surgery, and radiation. For young healthy men, the #1 treatment recommendation is the surgical removal of the prostate gland. This offers patients a potential cure for the disease. The surgical management of prostate cancer includes a traditional open approach, laparoscopic approach, and robotic approach. At present, the treatment of choice in United States is robotic prostatectomy. Robotic prostatectomy can be done with several small incisions as opposed to the usual 8-10 inch incision needed with the open procedure. It uses state-of-the-art technology designed to help the doctor perform the most precise and least invasive surgical treatment for prostate cancer. The benefits for robotic prostate include faster return to normal levels of activity, faster return to urinary continence, quicker return of sexual function, shorter hospital stays, low levels of post-operative pain, and less blood loss. However, one must keep in mind as with any surgical procedure these benefits cannot be guaranteed, as surgery is both patient and procedure specific.