A new day for prostate cancer treatment

Treatment for prostate cancer is being transformed with the help of early detection and minimally invasive robotic surgery.

Early detection and technologically advanced robot-assisted surgery make treating—and beating—prostate cancer easier than ever before. While prostate cancer is slow-growing, it is still a deadly disease. However, if it is caught early, a man’s survival rate is 99%, according to the Prostate Cancer Foundation. What’s even more encouraging: With the latest single-port robotic technology, surgery requires only one incision. The result is less pain, shorter hospital stays,
less scarring and a lower chance of nerve damage.

Just ask Ronald Cambra, a father of three and owner of Cambra Speed Shop, an auto fabrication shop in Orange. A blood test in June 2019 showed Cambra’s PSA levels were high. (PSA, or prostate-specific antigen, is a protein produced by normal and malignant cells of the prostate gland. High levels indicate a problem.) Despite being a volunteer with the Cruisin’ for a Cure fundraiser for prostate cancer, Cambra never thought he’d be diagnosed with the disease.

“Most men are probably going to have some issues with the prostate, but I was 59 when this happened and am a very active guy. I never thought it would happen to me and— boom—it did.”

“Prostate cancer is the most common cancer in men, and slow-growing, but it’s important to
catch it early so surgery is more successful and the cancer doesn’t spread,” explains Brian B. Norouzi, MD, the urologist and robotic surgeon at Providence St. Joseph Hospital who treated Cambra.

Cambra is one of the lucky ones who caught his cancer early. Plus, the operation was “seamless” and he has had a remarkable recovery—even going home and returning to work the same week as his surgery.

“I went in on the 12th [of January]. I’m nine weeks out. I’m 100% back,” Cambra explains.

“Single-port surgery is at the leading edge of innovation,” says Dr. Norouzi, who has more than 20 years of experience in treating prostate cancer. “We are moving toward outpatient surgery with this new robot. It’s a transformation.” Single-port robotic surgery is superior to earlier iterations because it can provide 10 times the magnification, better angle views and a steady robotic arm that ensures accurate targeting to avoid nerve damage. The single-port robot was made possible at Providence St. Joseph thanks to generous philanthropic donations.

“I was around before robotics,” explains Dr. Norouzi. “When I was training, sometimes men were
in the hospital for over a week after prostate surgery. We were advancing that with non-robotic
techniques in 1998 [before robotic surgery], and that was the best we could do. Now, with robotics, we trimmed that down and see much less pain, less time in the hospital and less risk of incontinence.”

There’s no question that single-port robotic surgery is transforming outcomes for prostate cancer patients. But the real silver bullet in fighting the disease is early detection. The earlier the disease is caught, the less need for surgery, or the less tissue that needs to be removed. Both scenarios help men return to healthy, pain-free lives afterwards. The American Cancer Society recommends annual checkups for men 50 and older, as well as for younger men if there is a
genetic predisposition.

“Catch it early—it’s a no-brainer,” says Cambra. “It’s a very slow cancer, but if you don’t catch it
quick enough, it will grow and be harder to remove. Bottom line: Get tested every year.”

Don’t put off important cancer screenings. Contact the Center for Cancer Prevention and Treatment to learn more by calling 714-734-6200.

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