1st randomized study compares robotic, open procedures for bladder cancer

SAN ANTONIO (Oct. 31, 2011) — Robot-assisted surgery for bladder cancer will be compared to traditional open surgery in 14 institutions nationwide, thanks to a five-year, $3.1 million National Cancer Institute grant awarded to Dipen Parekh, M.D., of UT Medicine San Antonio.

UT Medicine is the clinical practice of the School of Medicine at the UT Health Science Center San Antonio.

“Robotic technology has been around for close to a decade, but a well-designed comparative study of effectiveness has not been performed in a randomized fashion in any organ site,” said Dr. Parekh, chief of urologic oncology and robotic surgery in the School of Medicine. Randomized studies assign participants to novel and traditional treatment groups on a random basis and eliminate selection bias.

More centers are starting to utilize robotic technology for the removal of bladder cancers. Dr. Parekh has been on the forefront of this trend, using the da Vinci® Surgical System at both CHRISTUS Santa Rosa Medical Center in San Antonio and Doctors Hospital at Renaissance in Edinburg in the Lower Rio Grande Valley.

“We have by far the largest experience with robotic surgery for bladder cancer in the state of Texas, and we will be the only center in the state to offer this clinical trial,” Dr. Parekh said. “I strongly encourage all patients with bladder cancer who need surgery to enroll in this clinical trial, which will answer an extremely important question.”

Already, two-thirds of prostate removal surgeries are being done with robotic technology. Its use in bladder cancer surgery is developing. The promise of robot-assisted surgery is to help patients have quicker, better recoveries with less blood loss and less need for blood transfusions.

“In this study, we want to prove that robot-assisted surgery for bladder cancer is no different than the open procedure in oncologic outcomes — in patients being cancer-free — two years after surgery, besides improving morbidity and evaluating cost benefits,” Dr. Parekh said.

The institutions’ goal is to enroll 320 patients — 160 for the robot-assisted arm of the study and 160 for the open procedure arm.

Dr. Parekh also sees patients for initial consultations and surgical follow-up visits at the Cancer Therapy & Research Center (CTRC) at the UT Health Science Center San Antonio, one of only four National Cancer Institute-designated Cancer Centers in Texas. The CTRC is part of UT Medicine.

In addition to Dr. Parekh, Robert S. Svatek, M.D., assistant professor of urology, will also be offering this trial to his patients with bladder cancer.

Note to media: Bladder cancer patients are available for interviews.

UT Medicine San Antonio is the clinical practice of the School of Medicine at the UT Health Science Center at San Antonio. With more than 700 doctors – all faculty from the School of Medicine – UT Medicine is the largest medical practice in Central and South Texas, with expertise in more than 60 different branches of medicine. Primary care doctors and specialists see patients in private practice at UT Medicine’s clinical home, the Medical Arts & Research Center (MARC), located in the South Texas Medical Center at 8300 Floyd Curl Drive, San Antonio 78229. Most major health plans are accepted, and there are clinics and physicians at several local and regional hospitals, including CHRISTUS Santa Rosa, University Hospital and Baptist Medical Center. Call (210) 450-9000 to schedule an appointment, or visit the Web site at www.UTMedicine.org for a complete listing of clinics and phone numbers.

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