Charles’ Story: Aggressive Prostate Cancer Now in His Past

Charles MaertzIt didn’t surprise Charles Maertz that his family doctor found elevated PSA (prostate-specific antigen) levels during a routine physical. “You hear it everywhere that men my age are getting prostate cancer,” said Charles. “The first thing on my mind was, ‘How do we get rid of it? What are my options?’”

Charles was referred to urologist Martin Walsh, MD, urologist at Atrium Medical Center, who gave him another blood test, a sonogram and a biopsy. “What we found was an aggressive form of cancer,” explains Dr. Walsh, “but he’s a healthy 69-year-old man otherwise, so we had some options to offer him.”

Dr. Walsh has been performing robotic-assisted prostatectomies with the da Vinci® Surgical System for several years now. “We prefer it because patients experience less pain post-operatively, and they require a shorter hospital stay than with a traditional prostatectomy,” he said. “Patients return to normal daily activities within a couple of weeks. In fact, I have to encourage many patients to take it easy because they feel so good.”

Charles is retired from General Electric, where he worked in production engine testing, so he had some time to do a little research. “Dr. Walsh told me about all of my options and gave me a DVD about the robot,” said Charles. “I had never heard of it before.” After weighing the other choices, robotic-assisted surgery looked like the best option to Charles and his wife, Nancy, “because it required less recovery time.”

After the surgery, Charles had no pain, no infection, “no problems,” he said. “The worst part was that the catheter had to stay in for two weeks. There was a small incision above my belly button and two smaller incisions along each side of my belly for a total of five,” Charles explains. “If I had it to do over again, I’d make the same decision because otherwise it would be an eight-to-nine-inch incision.”

David C. Miller, MD, urologist at Atrium and Dr. Walsh’s colleague, is also trained to use the robot. “This new surgical robot is a tool to aid the surgeon,” Dr. Miller said. “The surgeon is still performing the procedure, but the computerized device allows us to work more precisely, with improved visualization, compared to the open, standard prostatectomy.” Dr. Walsh adds, “The robotic-assisted prostatectomy lessens blood loss and trauma on vital structures, which means patients can return to normal erectile function and urinate without a catheter quicker than with the conventional procedure.”

What was Charles so eager to get back to after his quick recovery? “Well, for one thing, I’ve been attempting to play golf for about 35 years!” he jokes. “I was glad to get back to the game.”

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Martin Walsh, MD

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