Emphasis on robot-assisted prostate surgery during Men’s Health Awareness | ArkLaTex In-Depth

If you notice more men with mustaches and beard this month give them a high five. The month of November is for Men’s Health Awareness.

Men typically resist slowing down to take care of themselves. From prostate cancer to testicular cancer and mental health, there are conditions that men have to pay close attention too.

Anchor/health reporter Brenda Teele talked with Dr. Nazih Paul Khater, an assistant professor of urology in the Department of Urology at Oshner-LSU Health, about the importance of prostate screenings. Khater is also fellowship-trained in robotic assisted surgery.

One in nine men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer this year. It’s as significant a health risk for men as breast cancer is for women.


Robotic Assisted Surgery

“There are 165,000 newly diagnosed cases of prostate cancer this year; in 2018 and up to 30,000 deaths. So it comes as the second place after lung cancer being the second lethal cancer as well,” Khater said. 

Khater gave a rare look inside Oschner LSU Hospital, where he performs robot-assisted prostate cancer removal. Prostate cancer is actually a small cancer that starts microscopically and grows slowly.

If it’s detected during a routine doctor’s visit, in most cases there’s a 99-percent survival rate. The problem is most men avoid going to the doctor.

Elise Cook, an associate professor at MD Anderson Cancer Center says: “Many men don’t get check-ups or look into cancer symptoms because their health isn’t something they talk about,” they would much rather talk about their favorite sports team than to discuss their health.”

Of the top 10 leading cause of death in men, cancer is a close second behind heart disease. Colon and rectal cancers tie with prostate cancer as the second most common cause of cancer deaths in men.

Colon cancer can be nearly completely preventable with timely colonoscopy screenings. And prostate cancer is also easily treated.

What can men can do to help themselves?

“So you have screening and prevention. And basically you have two kinds of risk factors and you have factors you can never change, you have race ethnicity and even your age, those you can never control,” Khater said.

African American men are more likely to develop prostate cancer than any other race and are 2.4 times more likely to die from the disease. Veterans are also hit especially hard. In fact, prostate cancer is the most frequently diagnosed cancer among veterans.


Robotic Assisted Surgery

“This is the future and we might say this is the present because we are living it,” Khater said about the da Vinci Surgical System. “So you have 10 times magnification when you sit on the console. You have 3D view, great depth perception that allows you to have great surgical control on the cancer and the outcomes are excellent.”

Justifying the cost of the da Vinci system has prevented some hospitals from adding robotic assisted surgery. But studies show a shorter hospital stay actually saves the hospital money.

More importantly, it gives the patient a better outcome.

“You’ll have less blood loss, and a great function of urinary control that you have at the end of the procedure,” Khater said.


Robotic Assisted Surgery

It’s a more precise procedure for an area that can be cumbersome to reach. “It’s a small gland and its just beneath the pubic bone where they used to do large abdominal incision. Now we just do small skin cuts,” he added.

Oschner-LSU is one of very few hospitals in the state to have one making open more invasive prostate surgery obsolete. Overton VA hospital does not have robotic assisted surgery, although the VA is actively researching a new chemotherapy combination and gene targeted therapy.

“The shift from open to robotic has been proven scientifically for kidney cancer and you have similar data to have the shift for bladder cancer and other urological surgeries as well,” Khater said.

But even this robot can’t make a man eat healthy, exercise, or go to the doctor.

Screening for men of African American descent should begin at 45 years of age. Otherwise, screening should begin at 50. One final thought for men: Mental health is a major concern for men and 75 percent of suicides are men.

More ArkLaTex In-Depth Stories

November is Men’s Health Awareness Month or “Movember”.

Some men will grow out their mustache or beard as a physical reminder for other men to go for an annual check-up.

Prostate and Kidney Cancer run high among men. In fact the incidents of prostate cancer in men are almost as high as breast cancer in women.

Robotic assisted surgery is replacing open surgery to treat prostate cancer. Read more

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Signs and Symptoms of Prostate Cancer:

  • -Weak urinary stream
  • -Blood in urine
  • -Erectile dysfunction
  • -Pain in the central bones

Free Prostate Screening for “Movember”

LSU Health’s Partners in Wellness clinic offers free prostate cancer screenings every month, usually the 3rd Wednesday of the month (This month it’s the 4th Wednesday though, so it will be on the 28th)

  • Patients must call to schedule in advance, no walk in appointments available as spots are limited. Partners in Wellness can be reached at (318) 813-2225.
  • Patients must have not received a screening in the past year (screenings are done once a year) and they must be 50 years of age or older (the recommended age to begin regular screenings)
  • Screenings can be scheduled with Partners in Wellness at any time by calling (318) 813-2225.
  • Partners in Wellness is located at 2015 Fairfield Ave, Shreveport, LA 71104.

Willis Knighton Cancer Center offering free Prostate Screening, Friday Nov 16 3:00-6:00 p.m. Same requirements as LSU Health.

*Advanced registration is required online at wkhs.com or call 318-212-8225.

If you’re having suicidal thoughts: call 318-221-3989 or 800-273-8255