Ganesh Raj, M.D., Ph.D. Answers Questions On: Genitourinary Cancers
What are benefits of robotic surgery for urologic cancer?
The key advantages of robotic surgery are, first, I get a magnified view of the surgical area.
Second, the blood loss can be minimal with robotic surgery because everything is done under the pressure of a pneumoperitoneum, which is pressure created by carbon dioxide in the abdomen during surgery
And third, patients do amazingly well. It’s minimally invasive. The next day, most of my patients look much better. They don’t have a big incision or a lot of pain.
Who is most at risk for testicular cancer?
Most people who get testicular cancer are younger than 40. If you’re over 40, your risk of testicular cancer is dramatically lower.
For young men worried about testicular cancer, I suggest the same thing we recommend for women who are worried about breast cancer: Do a testicular self exam in the shower on the first day of every month.
Testicular cancer used to be an extraordinarily difficult cancer to treat. However, it’s become the poster child of an extremely treatable cancer. If you have testicular cancer that’s detected early, the cure rate should be about 98 percent. There aren’t many tumors you can say that about.
We treat testicular cancer through careful use of multimodality therapy. The optimal outcomes in testicular cancer are usually for patients who get both surgery and chemotherapy, as well as radiation in some cases.
What advances in prostate cancer treatment will have the greatest impact on patients?
It is an extraordinarily exciting time in prostate cancer research. Prostate cancer is the most common non-dermatologic malignancy in men. Each year, 250,000 men are diagnosed with prostate cancer, and, according to current estimates, one out of every three newborn boys will be diagnosed with it in their lifetime.
Until recently, there had been almost no new drugs developed for prostate cancer for the past 15 or 20 years. But three years ago the avalanche started. On average, about three new drugs have been FDA approved for prostate cancer every year for the past three or four years. We anticipate by the year 2020 there will be 25 to 30 new drugs for prostate cancer – including, we hope, some developed in our lab.
We think the new drugs will dramatically decrease the number of people suffering and dying from prostate cancer. Right now, in the United States alone, 25,000 people a year die of prostate cancer. That number can be dramatically lowered with all these new drugs that are coming.