Experience Really Is Important When It Comes To Prostate Cancer Surgery
With the majority of things in life it is fair to say that the more experienced and practiced you are the better your performance will be and this would certainly seem to be the case when it comes to ...
With the majority of things in life it is fair to say that the more experienced and practiced you are the better your performance will be and this would certainly seem to be the case when it comes to prostate cancer surgery.
A significant problem with cancer is that, in spite of the best efforts of your surgeon, it has a bad habit of returning in a number of cases. In the case of prostate cancer following the total removal of the prostate through radical prostatectomy recent studies have revealed that, while the chances of a recurrence are around 18 percent when surgery is carried out by a fairly inexperienced surgeon, this figure falls to less than 11 percent in more experience hands. So exactly what do we mean by 'experienced hands'?
A recently conducted study examined 7,800 prostate cancer patients who underwent radical prostatectomy in the United States between 1987 and 2003 involving some 72 surgeons from 4 major academic cancer centers around the country.
Interestingly enough the study showed that there is an extremely steep learning curve when it comes to performing prostate surgery and that it takes a significant amount of practice to master this particular surgical technique. Indeed, the study showed that it was not until surgeons had carried out a minimum of 250 operations that a marked improvement in outcomes was evident.
So exactly what can we learn from this study if we are faced with the prospect of having to undergo prostate surgery?
First and foremost it is very important that patients select a surgeon who regularly performs this form of surgery. Indeed, it may well be advisable to select a surgeon who specializes solely in prostate surgery, or whose work revolves largely around such surgery. In most general hospital settings surgeons will carry out such surgery very infrequently, perhaps as rarely as just one or two times a year, and this is not enough to give them the expertise necessary to provide you with the best possible change of a low recurrence rate.
In the light of this therefore your first choice should undoubtedly be a specialist cancer treatment center and a surgeon whose work involves exclusively, or at least very largely, prostate surgery.
The study also revealed however that there is a significant improvement in recurrence rates not simply for specialist cancer centers, but also for teaching establishments. This is undoubtedly because, within the academic setting, a great deal of emphasis is placed upon supporting mechanisms to evaluate the outcome of procedures as well as to provide feedback in an effort to create an environment of continuous improvement. This is not always the case in non-academic facilities. Also, academic centers have a tendency to attract people who are especially interested not just in the outcome of their work but in correcting their errors and improving their technique.
So, if you find yourself in the unfortunate position of needing prostate surgery then you would be well advised to elect to have surgery at the hands of an experienced and practiced surgeon who is employed in a specialist cancer center housed within a major teaching facility.
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