The da Vinci Robot

This one is a little personal. If you know me, or have been reading my blog long, you are aware that I am a suvivor of prostate cancer. I had a radical prostatectomy on my 60th birthday. Today, I feel great and my last test showed no signs of cancer.

I read this article in the NY Times yesterday that claimed that there is no evidence that robotic surgery is ‘better’ for cancer patients. The subtitle reads: “High-tech surgical robots aren’t an improvement over traditional operations, the F.D.A. warns. For some patients, the robots may be worse.” Let’s discuss this for a minute.

They reference a study of women diagnosed with cervical cancer. In the population, they found that women with robotically assisted hysterectomies experience four times as any recurrences and six times as many deaths.

The second study compared the outcomes for over 2,000 women with cervical cancer ... 9.1% of those that had robotic assisted surgery died compare to 5.3 percent that had open surgery.

I hope someone really digs into these studies, and that they do research on other types of cancer. My recovery was amazingly fast. That is one of the benefits of a robotic surgery. It is also said to result in fewer post-surgery infections. Of course, it’s only been 16 months, but I hope the long term outlooks stays positive.

I am hopeful for more testing. I believe these machines offer big advantages for the patient, but reoccurring cancer is not a good outcome.

My surgeon worked on me for an extra 2 hours to make sure he didn’t leave anything behind. That is not the right terms, but he did extra work. All of that said, cancer does return. I think about that almost daily. It is a real possibility. I don’t know much about these studies, but I am a proponent of robotic surgery. I hope they learn more.

Here is the article:

Cancer Patients Are Getting Robotic Surgery. There’s No Evidence It’s Better.

~ Rick

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