Nine large Dutch hospital groups have come up with a plan to concentrate robot surgery for prostate cancer in two major centres, arguing that the more experienced surgeons are, the better the results.
At the moment 37 different Dutch hospitals carry out the surgery, a total of 2,500 times a year. But some carry out just a handful of operations and research shows patients at those hospitals have a 40% greater chance of serious complications.
By contrast at the Martini Clinic in Hamburg, which specialises in the technique, just 6.5% of patients develop problems with incontinence, compared with 43% across Germany as a whole.
The hospitals say the surgery should be concentrated at the Maasstad hospital and Rotterdam and Canisius Wilhelmina hospital in Nijmegen. They would each carry out at least 500 operations a year, sharply reducing the risk of incontinence and impotence to patients.
Amsterdam’s specialist cancer hospital Antoni van Leeuwenhoek has welcomed the initiative to concentrate robotic prostate surgery in centres of excellence. However, it told broadcaster NOS that a centre should also be based in the Amsterdam region.
Some 10,000 men are identified with prostate cancer in the Netherlands every year and around 2,500 die from the disease. Earlier this year, European research led by Erasmus University in Rotterdam showed a two-yearly prostate cancer test for men aged 55 to 59 would save 300 lives a year.
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