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da Vinci robotic surgery system

Robotic surgery for prostate cancer

One of the most commonly diagnosed cancers, prostate cancer will affect approximately 16% of American men sometime in their life. What causes prostate cancer is unknown, but if it is detected and treated early, survival rates are among the highest of any cancer.

Symptoms of prostate cancer

If prostate cancer is localized - meaning it has not spread to nearby tissue or organs - it is common for a person to have no symptoms. This is why prostate cancer is often found only during a routine screening. If the cancer has spread, however, or the tumor is large, symptoms can include:

  • frequent urination (especially at night)
  • weak or interrupted flow
  • inability to urinate or difficulty starting
  • pain or burning sensation when urinating
  • blood in the urine
  • persistent pain in lower back, hips, or thighs (bone pain)
  • painful ejaculation

If you have been diagnosed with localized prostate cancer you may have several treatment options depending on your age, health, personal preference and the stage of the disease. Surgery is the only option for removing a cancerous prostate.

Benefits of robotic surgery

For most patients, da Vinci Prostatectomy offers many potential benefits over open surgery including:

  • Shorter hospital stays
  • Significantly less pain
  • Less blood loss and transfusions
  • Fewer complications
  • Smaller incisions and less scarring
  • Quicker return to normal activities
  • Improved cancer control
  • Faster return to continence and potency

Because every surgery and every patient is unique, outcomes and benefits will vary. Talk to your doctor to find out if you are a candidate for da Vinci prostatectomy.

How robotic surgery compares

The table below compares three surgical options for prostate cancer. The outcomes clearly demonstrate the benefits of choosing da Vinci prostatectomy.

Outcomes da Vinci Open Laparoscopy

Cancer control

Estimated blood loss

Length of hospitalization

Major complications

Minor complications

Urinary function at 12 months

Sexual function after 12 months


109 ml

1.2 days






1355 ml

3 days






380 ml

2.5 days





Data provided by Intuitive Surgical. For more information on this topic, please visit


Physicians at United Hospital trained to perform robotic surgery for prostate cancer:

The procedure

Robotic surgery is performed using advanced technology known as the da Surgical System. The da Vinci robot does not act on it own. It is an extension of the surgeon's hands and eyes, with the surgeon initiating and controlling every movement.

The surgeon sits at a console near the patient, using hand and foot pedals to control four robotic arms that hold micro-instruments and a miniature camera. A special 3D camera projects a color image to the console, giving the surgeon a magnified view 10 times greater than the power of the human eye. The tips of the robotic arms rotate like the human wrist, allowing surgeons to use many of the same techniques they learned for open surgery even though they are operating through tiny incisions.

Robotic technology gives surgeons more flexibility, increased precision and better access to internal organs. Using da Vinci surgeons can perform radical prostatectomy with improved accuracy and very little damage to surrounding nerves and tissue.

The da VinciĀ® Prostatectomy is quickly becoming the preferred treatment for removing prostate cancer following early diagnosis. In fact, it is the most effective and least invasive prostate surgery being performed today. With da Vinci, most patients will likely have a complete recovery from prostate cancer without long-term side effects.

Robotic surgery vs. traditional open surgery

The good news is that if your doctor recommends surgery, your prostate cancer is probably in an early stage. However, it is likely you will still have a lot of anxiety - and many questions. You may want to know how long you will be in the hospital, whether you will be incontinent, and when you can resume sexual relations. The answers to these questions depend on the type of surgical procedure you have.

Radical prostatectomy - the surgical removal of the entire prostate - is one of the most common treatments for prostate cancer. Until recently, radical prostatectomy required open abdominal surgery with an 8-10 inch incision. Patients usually lose a considerable amount of blood loss and have a long, uncomfortable recovery.

Fortunately, you can now choose a less invasive alternative to open prostate surgery that offers vastly improved outcomes for many patients.

If your doctor recommends surgery to treat your prostate cancer, you may be a candidate for da VinciĀ® Prostatectomy, an innovative robotic-assisted procedure that is the fastest growing treatment for prostate cancer today. This minimally invasive procedure offers an alternative to both traditional open surgery and conventional laparoscopic surgery.