Tracking the Rise of Robotic Surgery for Prostate Cancer
In the 11 years since the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the first robotic surgical system for conducting abdominal and pelvic surgeries, its use has skyrocketed. The da Vinci Surgical System is now used to perform as many as 4 out of 5 radical prostatectomies in the United States. The robotic system is also increasingly being used to treat other cancers, including gynecologic and head and neck cancers. According to da Vinci’s manufacturer, Intuitive Surgical, Inc., more than 1,000 of the robotic systems are in hospitals across the country.
Several recent studies suggest that the ascendance of robotic prostatectomy has had numerous consequences, including a mass migration of prostate cancer patients to hospitals with robotic systems and an overall increase in the number of prostatectomies performed each year. The latter trend has raised some concern because it coincides with a period during which prostate cancer incidence has declined slightly.