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Retired doctor chooses robotic surgery for prostate cancer: Robert's story

  • When Robert Jensen, MD, found out he had prostate cancer, he chose to have robotic surgery at United Hospital in St. Paul, Minnesota.

    "The long-term outcomes are the same as traditional surgery, but the expected recovery time is better using the robotics," says the retired doctor from Stillwater, Minnesota.

    Prostate cancer

    Every year, more than a quarter of a million American men are diagnosed with prostate cancer. When prostate cancer is caught and treated early, there's a 90 percent five-year survival rate.

    Surgical removal of the prostate (radical prostatectomy), is one of the most common treatments for prostate cancer.

    Traditional surgery for prostate cancer usually means being in the hospital for several days and a long recovery period. It also carries a risk of incontinence (the inability to fully control urine) and impotence (erection problems).

    Robotic prostate surgery is available at Abbott Northwestern, United and Unity hospitals.

    Robotic surgery for prostate cancer treatment

    Surgeons at United Hospital use the da Vinci® S HD™ Surgical System to treat prostate cancer. The device allows them to operate more accurately and less invasively than traditional surgery.

    • Seated at a console, the surgeon controls a number of robotic arms that make small incisions.
    • A tiny camera and special surgical tools go through the incisions.
    • The camera provides a detailed, 3-D view of the prostate on a screen.
    • Miniature robotic "hands" allow a range of motion and a level of steadiness that would be impossible for human hands to duplicate.

    "Robotics is the next era of surgery," says Urologist Peter Sershon, MD, medical director of United's robotics program. "Data for prostate cancer patients show that recovery for urinary incontinence and impotence is more quickly improved."

    Jensen agrees, "I came home with four tiny incisions instead of a large incision that would have separated tissue and muscle. I only had to stay in the hospital overnight, and my recovery time was substantially less."

    Jensen's quick recovery meant getting back to what he enjoys most: spending time with his grandchildren and handcrafting fine cabinetry from 18th century designs.

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  • Robert Jensen plays outside with his grandson