Patients with prostate cancer who are treated with robotic-assisted surgery may lower their chances of recurrence, according to a study published in European Urology (2010 Sep 17. [Epub ahead of print]).

According to background information provided by the authors, Henry Ford’s robot-assisted urology program enables surgeons to manipulate robotic arms for precise procedures through a series of small incisions instead of the large wounds required by traditional open surgery and provides three-dimensional monitoring for the entire surgical team.

The study, led by a research team from Henry Ford Hospital, was conducted to test the effectiveness of robot-assisted surgery on the long-term survival of a large group of cancer patients. Involved in the study were 1,384 men who were diagnosed with moderately aggressive prostate cancer and underwent robot-assisted radical prostatectomy. Participants were checked for recurrence of their cancer every 3 months during the first year after surgery, twice during the second year, then annually.

Researchers found that nearly 87% of patients had no recurrence of their disease after 5 years. The study’s authors say that the results provide a strong endorsement of the curative role of radical prostatectomy for patients with localized prostate cancer treated in the contemporary era.

While earlier studies found that about 35% of men suffered a recurrence within 10 years after undergoing traditional radical prostatectomy, Mani Menon, MD, director of Henry Ford’s Vattikuti Urology Institute, and his team suspected that those results might have become outdated as the use of prostate-specific antigen (PSA) screening gained wider acceptance.

“With five-year actuarial biochemical recurrence-free survival outcomes of 86.6%, robot-assisted radical prostatectomy appears to confer effective five-year prostate cancer control,” the authors concluded.