Forging the Future of Cancer Care

Ed Peirick is an Ironman finisher and a prostate cancer survivor: "“Look at cancer as an opportunity to build yourself back up to all that you intended to be."The Department of Urology was one of the first programs to adopt robotic technology for the removal of the cancerous prostate.


Currently, the Department has completed more than 1,000 of these operations. When the program was instituted in 2006, the Department undertook a number of studies to examine the effectiveness and benefits of this technology. Achieving cancer control, urinary function and sexual function are the main goals after prostate removal.


UW Health urologists published an early paper demonstrating that cancer outcomes are similar to open radical prostatectomy, an important endpoint for any new technology. They have extended these observations to examine a number of important issues in patient recovery.


Robotic prostatectomy demonstrates decreased hospital stays, less blood loss and shorter time with a foley catheter versus the open procedure. Continence and erections appear similarly quite good when the groups were compared by the Department’s highly trained surgical group.


Advances in patient care continue with several publications documenting the advantage of the robotic procedure in dealing with variations in the arterial supply of the penis. These accessory pudendal arteries are better visualized and isolated using the robotic approach. In addition, UW Health urologists have been advocates of disseminating their experience by publishing on how to approach more difficult anatomy.


The program continues to expand with additional surgeons and robotic machines. Newer technology permits a decrease in the number of port sites used. Overall, the Department has found robotic surgery to be an excellent approach for most patients with prostate cancer because of smaller incisions, better visualization of the prostate and surrounding structures, decreased blood loss and a quicker physical recovery after surgery.




Laurila T, Huang W, and Jarrard DF. Robotic-Assisted Laparoscopic and Radical Retropubic Prostatectomy Generate Similar Positive Margin Rates In Low and Intermediate Risk Patients. Urol. Oncol. 27(5), 529-533. 2009.


Sterrett SP, Jarrard DF. Robotic assisted laparoscopic radical prostatectomy: Evolution and outcomes. Minerva Urol Nephrol. 2008 60 (1):31-9.


Patel SR, Kaplon DM, and Jarrard DF. A Technique for the Management of a Large Median Lobe in Robot-Assisted Laparoscopic Radical Prostatectomy. J Endourol 24(12), 1899-1901. 2010.


Sterrett S, Laurila T, Bandi G,and Jarrard DF. Identification and preservation of accessory pudendal vessels during robot-assisted laparoscopic radical prostatectomy. Journal of Robotic Surgery. 2008:1863-2483.