Surgical skills rather than tools are the key

13 July 2018

Men undergoing either robot-assisted or open surgery for prostate cancer experienced equally good outcomes, a study involving University of Queensland researchers has found.

The 24 month study was the first to compare the long-term functional outcomes of the procedure in a randomised controlled analysis.

UQ Centre for Clinical Research urologist Emeritus Professor Robert (‘Frank’) Gardiner said the study examined the urinary and sexual function and oncological outcomes of around 300 men.

“Twenty-four months post-surgery is still early days in terms of cancer control, but in terms of outcomes for urinary and sexual function, it is a widely accepted timeframe for recovery,” Professor Gardiner said.

“Our study showed excellent results for both groups of patients, with no differences in terms of urinary or sexual function.   

“On the basis of this research, we cannot support patients changing doctors to pursue one surgical option over the other.

“Patients should go to a surgeon who is good at what they are doing rather than choosing a surgeon based on the surgical option they are offering.”

Robot-assisted surgery for prostate cancer has been rapidly adopted by health professionals and is now the most widely utilised surgical approach for prostatectomy.

Cancer Council Queensland CEO Chris McMillan said prostate cancer was the most common cancer diagnosed in men in Australia, excluding non-melanoma skin cancer.

“Around 18,300 men are diagnosed with prostate cancer every year in Australia, and about 3,200 die from the disease,” Ms McMillan said.

“If men have questions about their individual risk of prostate cancer, we recommend they speak with their GP to discuss risk factors and pros and cons of prostate cancer testing.”

The Cancer Council Queensland-funded study was undertaken by the Department of Urology at Royal Brisbane and Women’s Hospital, UQCCR and Menzies Health Institute Queensland with support from the Urological Society of Australia and New Zealand.

The finding are published in The Lancet Oncology.

Media: Faculty of Medicine media,, +61 7 3365 5118.