One mans journey in deciding on robotic surgery for his prostate cancer

The ultimate deadline Chicago Tribune: “The ultimate deadline
Faced with conflicting medical advice, newsman Robert Jordan took the road less traveled to treat his prostate cancer
By Robert Jordan
Special to the Tribune
Published June 18, 2006”

This story was given to me by a patient. Mr. Jordan has done excellent research and has hit on the important points that are overlooked by many patients and not stressed by all physicians.

1- Second opinions are a good thing. There are many opinions in choosing the best form of treatment for prostate cancer and a second opinion can help get multiple views.

2- In his decision making about choosing radiation, he writes: “Doctors there use tomotherapy, which targets radiation on the cancerous area. Patients can continue a nearly normal lifestyle during the course of the therapy, which is painless and non-invasive. It leaves most patients continent and potent, but subsequent scarring from the radiation, sometimes two to three years later, can cause problems in both those areas.”
You are trading in short term side effects for long term effects with radiation.

3- He understands the importance of cautery free surgery: “I read up on the da Vinci procedure in medical journals and discovered papers discussing the advantages of not using cautery-a technique that stops blood vessels from bleeding with an electrical arc, which immediately coagulates the blood. Zapping a blood vessel so near a nerve couldn’t be good for the nerve, I thought, so I looked for da Vinci surgeons who did not cauterize.”
Even bipolar devices that do not spread electricity, will spread heat and I try to limit any cautery near the nerves including the prostate pedicles.

I think this article hits on most of the important points in choosing therapy for prostate cancer and is a must read for newly diagnosed patients.