Diagnosis: Prostate cancer
Treatment: da Vinci surgery
If you don’t think your annual physical is important, just ask Darrell Blankenship.
When he turned 50, a prostate exam was added to his annual tests.
The exam revealed a clinically significant prostate cancer.
“My primary care provider, Dr. James Brown of EvergreenHealth Primary Care in Canyon Park, gave me the treatment choices,” Blankenship recalls. “There was radiation seed therapy, or surgery with the da Vinci robotic system.”
He opted for the surgery and met with urologist Dr. Scott Van Appledorn, who is medical director of EvergreenHealth’s da Vinci surgery program.
“Dr. Van Appledorn answered all of my questions, and I felt very confident with him,” Blankenship says. “I decided right then to go ahead with the surgery.”
“Like everyone else, Darrell had concerns about possible side effects of the surgery,” Dr. Van Appledorn recalls. “He was concerned about urinary and sexual function, and about getting back to work quickly.”
That’s where da Vinci surgery has the advantage.
“Because the prostate is tucked away inside the pelvis, it is relatively inaccessible,” Dr. Van Appledorn explains. “The da Vinci improves that access, and more importantly, its precision means vital nerve bundles can be left intact, minimizing the side effects of urinary incontinence and sexual dysfunction.”
The smaller incisions also mean less blood loss and quicker recoveries.
“The small, articulating instruments used by the da Vinci make it simpler to do minimally invasive surgery,” he goes on to explain. “And the magnified 3D images make it easier for the surgeon to identify the important anatomical structures. The da Vinci helps me do a better operation with better outcomes.”
EvergreenHealth is home to the newest-generation da Vinci robotic surgical system – the technologically advanced, high-definition da Vinci Si HD.
Even though it’s called “robotic,” the da Vinci does not act on its own.
The surgeon controls the da Vinci, which then translates the surgeon’s hand movements through four highly dexterous robotic arms into smaller, more precise movements inside the patient’s body.
Darrell Blankenship’s surgery went well.
“His prostate was removed, and we got clear margins around his cancer,” Dr. Van Appledorn says, “and Darrell tells me his quality of life is quite good after the surgery.”
For Darrell, who has a physically demanding job as a tower crane operator, it was important to have an easier recovery and a quick return to work.
He spent one night in the hospital and was back to work within a month.
Now cancer-free, he has no doubts he made the right decision.
“EvergreenHealth was the right choice for me,” he says. “I still tell people how wonderfully I was treated from the time I checked in until the time I left.”
“Some of Darrell’s friends had pressured him to check out the downtown hospitals because they weren’t aware of the robotic surgery program available at EvergreenHealth,” Dr. Van Appledorn says.
“But there was no need to go anywhere else, and the results of his surgery prove that. He’s very happy, and that makes me very happy.”