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Prostate surgery success depends on surgeons experience
Prostate surgery success depends on surgeons experience

July 27, 2007 (Insidermedicine) A person’s chance of being cancer-free after prostate cancer surgery may depend on the surgeon’s experience, according to a study published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.

Prostate cancer is the most common cancer in American men. According the American Cancer society, more than 200,000 will get the disease this year, and more than 27,000 men will die from it.

While patients with prostate cancer need to be seen by an experienced surgeon, in reality, many patients are treated by surgeons with very little experience. In fact, many surgeons do as few as one prostatectomy a year, while for others dedicate all of their time only to this surgical procedure.

In the present study, researchers analyzed data from 72 surgeons from four major US academic cancer centers. The review included nearly 7,800 prostate cancer patients who underwent radical prostatectomies over a 16-year period.

It was found that, compared to surgeons who had performed more than 250 surgeries, those who had performed fewer than 10 procedures had a 70% higher rate of having their patients’ cancer recur within five years.

The findings demonstrate that patients fare better when they have a prostatectomy at a teaching hospital or specialized cancer center, where surgeons are highly experienced in treating prostate cancer. In addition, academic centers tend to have mechanisms in place to assess outcomes, and regular feedback and quality assurance programs contribute to improving performance.

The experts recommend that patients facing prostatectomies find out how experienced their prospective surgeon is, and the mechanisms that are available to improve outcome should unexpected problems be found.  

Reporting for Insidermedicine, I’m Dr. Susan Sharma.