Early Prostate Cancer Treatment Saves Lives and Money

The recent launch of prostate cancer drug, Zytiga, discussions continue to run hot about the cost of cancer treatment worldwide. As a leading robotic prostatectomy surgeon, Dr. David Samadi, Vice Chairman, Department of Urology, and Chief of Robotics and Minimally Invasive Surgery at The Mount Sinai Medical Center, is familiar with the ongoing debate surrounding healthcare costs and prostate cancer treatments.


Dr. Samadi, a proponent of early PSA screening, raises an interesting point with regard to how much is too much when it comes to healthcare spending. "To me," he responds, "the question is relative. Robotic prostatectomy is not a cheap option, but it is an effective one. Surgically removing the cancer early serves two purposes -- men are able to live happy, healthy, cancer-free lives and they are less dependent on our healthcare system to support them through a costly disease."


Used in the treatment of metastic castration-resistant prostate cancer, FDA-approved Zytiga (abiraterone acetate) can extend a man's life up to 5 months. "This is a drug for men who failed to find a cure in chemotherapy or in other treatment options that lower testosterone level," explains Dr. Samadi. At a cost of nearly $5,000 per month, Zytiga removes the prostate cancer tumor's supply of testosterone, preventing it from growing any further. "While new treatment options such as this are important to men suffering from late-stage prostate cancer, my hope is that we continue to use our resources to stop the cancer before it reaches this stage," asserts Dr. Samadi.


Dr. Samadi uses robotic surgery to perform his SMART (Samadi Modified Advanced Robotic Technique) surgery. The expense of robotic surgery is also scrutinized for the initial robot investment, as well as ongoing maintenance. But Dr. Samadi remains firm in his beliefs in the unparalleled benefit of minimally invasive robotic surgery to remove the prostate and cancerous tissue. "I want to help men choose the treatment options that could give them another 20 or 30 years, not 5. We shouldn't let it get that far," stresses Samadi.


Men diagnosed with prostate cancer have a plethora of research and recommendations to weed through. Complicating their decision is the ongoing debate regarding the right course of treatment, which doctors and hospitals offer that method and the myriad of potential side effects. "Prostate cancer treatment is an individual decision based on individual diagnosis and patient choice; however," Dr. Samadi adds, "for the healthcare industry, the costs of one treatment, such as robotic surgery, need to be weighed against the costs of supporting a patient with ongoing treatment through all stages of a progressive disease. Prolonging the disease is not good medicine, and it's not good business."

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