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El Camino Hospital and Me

Wayne's Story: Robotic Prostatectomy

In 2003, Wayne (for privacy reasons, we're not using his real name) learned he had prostate cancer. Although a cancer diagnosis is never good, Wayne was happy to hear it was still early-stage, meaning it had not grown significantly or spread outside of the prostate.

If prostate cancer is caught early, many men choose "active surveillance" instead of immediate treatment; active surveillance involves monitoring the cancer and looking for changes over time. Wayne decided this was the best option for him.

For eight years, Wayne saw his urologist and had his prostate-specific antigen PSA level checked. He had eight biopsies during this time period as well. When his doctor became concerned about his rising Gleason score (a type of cancer tissue grading), Wayne was told he would need either surgery or radiation.

"To me, surgery was a more precise way of treating my cancer," recalls Wayne. Urologist Frank Lai, MD, agreed with Wayne's decision, and scheduled him for surgery at El Camino Hospital.

Wayne had what's known as a robotic prostatectomy. Dr. Lai is one of a small number of area urologists trained in the use of the da Vinci Robotic Surgical System, which allows physicians to operate by controlling tiny medical instruments via a computer console. Surgeries performed with da Vinci typically involve just a few small incisions and a quicker recovery, with fewer side effects from surgery.

Wayne's surgery was a success. He says he felt almost no pain after the surgery.

"I was a two out of 10 on the pain scale," says Wayne, who credits the surgical skill of Dr. Lai and also the robotic technique, which leaves only minor incisions in the skin. "Instead of a big incision, I have five tiny scars — two on either side of my belly button, and one on my belly button," explains Wayne, who healed quickly and has had no side effects from the surgery.

Wayne is also grateful for the time Dr. Lai spent with him before and after surgery.

"He came into the hospital at 1 a.m. just to check on me," says Wayne, who didn't expect to see his doctor in the wee hours of the night.

Because he had such a positive experience, Wayne advises anyone choosing to have a prostatectomy to have robotic surgery. "Don't hesitate if you need it."

Thank you, Wayne, for sharing your story with us!