Minimally Invasive Treatment Offers New Alternative for Testicular Cancer

March 6, 2007 – It's the most common form of cancer in men age 15 to 35 and is diagnosed in 8,000 men annually. Fortunately, new advances in the treatment of testicular cancer can mean recovery after surgery in only around 36 hours.

At the Siteman Cancer Center at Barnes-Jewish Hospital and Washington University School of Medicine, urologic surgeon Robert Figenshau, MD, is performing a minimally invasive treatment for the disease that's only available at a few centers nationally.

By definition, testicular cancer is a disease in which malignant cells form in the tissues of one or both testicles. All patients go on to surgery, where the cancerous testicle is removed. 

However, many patients with low stage (stage 1 or stage 2) testicular cancer tumors often elect to undergo further surgery to remove the lymph nodes behind the abdomen. This procedure, called retroperitoneal lymph node dissection (RPLND), is a major operation that traditionally includes a lengthy incision from below the breastbone to the groin.

Conversely, Figenshau and his colleagues at Siteman can perform the procedure laparascopically. Small keyhole incisions are made and a small video camera and long instruments are inserted. Looking on a video monitor, Figenshau can perform the exact dissection and removal of the lymph nodes that is done in the open surgical procedure.

"We have had surgical results similar to those of the open procedure, but patients experience a much more rapid recovery when compared to the recovery period following the open surgical procedure," Figenshau says. "Most patients are discharged from the hospital the day after surgery and are fully recovered one month after the surgery."

Figenshau and Sam Bhayani, MD, specialize in laparascopic RPLND at the Siteman Cancer Center. For more information, call 800-600-3606.