Published on September 02, 2020

Robotic Surgery at Silver Cross a ‘Game Changer’ for Prostate Cancer Patients 

As with many prostate cancer sufferers, Paul Sprole of Morris had no idea he had any issues when, in fact, the cancer had already begun to spread. 

Paul and Diane Sprole
Paul Sprole of Morris (pictured with wife Diane) says robotic prostatectomy at Silver Cross Hospital was a game-changer for him.

Though he had no symptoms, his doctor noted during a routine physical in March 2019 that his PSA (prostate-specific antigen) level had jumped from 3.0 to 4.79. A follow-up test the following June showed the level was at 5.47. 

There was no prostate cancer in the family, Sprole said, and he’d never had any surgeries in his 68 years, but “after seeing my PSA increase over 4, I did expect to hear that I had prostate cancer when I met with my urologist the end of July,” said Sprole, an Exelon retiree who lives in Morris with his wife of 48 years. He was right. 

Sprole’s doctor thought he was a good candidate for a robotic prostatectomy, and suggested he see board-certified urologist Thai Nguyen, M.D. Dr. Nguyen is also the Medical Director of the Midwest Institute for Robotic Surgery at Silver Cross Hospital in New Lenox, a position he’s held since 2012, when the nationally recognized hospital obtained its first da Vinci robot. 

Dr. Nguyen is fellowship trained and spent 2003-2004 one-on-one with an expert urologist solely on minimally invasive/laparoscopic/robotic surgery. 

Most prostates can be taken out robotically, he said, depending on the skill level and comfort of the surgeon. 

“But not every case of prostate cancer is best served with surgery, as there are many treatment options available, including various forms of radiation or even observation only. Each patient should be evaluated on a case-by-case basis,” Dr. Nguyen added. 

Before choosing a course of treatment last fall, Sprole did his homework, talking with five men around his age who were also robotic surgical patients of Dr. Nguyen. After the two met, Sprole’s mind was made up. He opted for robotic prostatectomy at the Midwest Institute for Robotic Surgery at Silver Cross. 

The surgery was performed on Oct. 29, and Sprole went home two days later for “many hours of recovery in my recliner! One week out from the surgery, I felt very good, and I experienced no setbacks from the surgery. Everyone at Silver Cross Hospital was exceptional.“I had almost no incontinence following the surgery,” he added. “That was one major concern I had prior to going into the surgery.” 

Credit that to robotic surgery, Dr. Nguyen said. 

 “The wristed, robotically-assisted instruments that lack human tremors or muscle fatigue allow significantly improved surgical precision in the difficult-to-reach pelvis where the prostate is located,” he explained. “These advantages are key to allowing us the ability to optimize cancer cure while minimizing damage to structures that are critical to preserving urinary and sexual function. 

“The technology certainly is a game-changer,” Dr. Nguyen added. “The magnified visualization of the pelvic anatomy is unparalleled by that which we had through a large abdominal incision, and the 3-D image is light years ahead of anything that we were afforded through a standard laparoscope.” 

“As a specialty, there is consensus that this complex surgery is best when performed by a high-volume, sub-specialized surgeon, rather than everybody in the practice trying to go out and do a few here and there,” he said. “So my practice – nine urologists including myself – funnels nearly all patients to me.” 

Sprole is thankful they did. Further PSAs show no trace of cancer, and he has no residual effects. 

“Dr. Nguyen did a wonderful job, and the nurses at Silver Cross took great care of me for those two days. I would recommend Dr. Nguyen and the robotic surgery at Silver Cross to any guy who is facing prostate cancer.” 

September is Prostate Cancer Awareness Month

Prostate cancer is the second most common cancer among men, yet it’s also one of the most treatable. September is Prostate Cancer Awareness Month, a great time to understand your risks for prostate cancer. 

Individuals at the greatest risk for prostate cancer include African American men, men over the age of 65, and men with family histories of prostate or other cancers. While some signs, like trouble urinating and pelvic pain, may indicate the presence of prostate cancer, many men never experience any symptoms.  

Screening for prostate cancer using the prostate specific antigen test can identify abnormalities and may find cancer early so that affected men can begin treatment before it spreads.  For this reason, all men aged 55 to 69 are encouraged to talk to their physicians about screening options. 

For more information about robotic prostate surgery at Silver Cross, visit midwestroboticsurgery.org

Physicians on Silver Cross Hospital’s Medical Staff have expertise in their areas of practice to meet the needs of patients seeking their care. These physicians are independent practitioners on the Medical Staff and are not the agents or employees of Silver Cross Hospital. They treat patients based upon their independent medical judgment and they bill patients separately for their services.