Robot-assisted surgery for prostate cancer has been heavily hyped, and a new study suggests that men's expectations of the surgery may be too high.
Researchers found that of 171 men facing prostate cancer surgery, those having robotic surgery expected a shorter hospital stay, and a quicker return to their usual physical activity and sex life.
But those hopes may not be realistic.
Prostate removal is one treatment option for prostate cancer, and in the U.S., a majority of those surgeries are now done with the help of a "robot."
During the procedure, the surgeon sits at a console, operating robotic "arms" that extract the prostate gland through small cuts in the abdomen.
The robotic approach is expensive. And after hospitals invest the roughly $1.5 million for the machines, plus the cost of surgeon training and annual service contracts, they often aggressively market the approach -- as do the companies behind the technology.
And that may include claims that robotic surgery is better than the old-fashioned way.
"Since about the mid-2000s, people were thinking that robotic surgery was the greatest thing since sliced bread," said Dr. Judd W. Moul, a prostate surgeon at Duke University Medical Center who led the new study.