Editor’s Note: As we come to the close of September, National Prostate Cancer Awareness Month, wowOwow sits down to talk with the internationally noted urology surgeon David B. Samadi, Chief, Division of Robotics and Minimal Invasive Surgery, Mount Sinai School of Medicine.
WOW: Do women play a significant role in men’s health?
DR. DAVID SAMADI: Very much so. Studies show that 70 percent of all health-care decisions are made by women for their spouses and partners.
WOW: Not just for prostate health matters, your special interest?
DS: All health matters. But concerning specifically the prostate, yes, it is the women who are doing all the research and coming up with all the questions when couples come to see me. After all, women are the ones who are going to be most affected by prostate problems.
WOW: How so?
DS: Prostate problems affect the man’s sexual function, the man’s incontinence and there is the emotional part of all that. A woman does not want a man in diapers.
WOW: What can a woman do to help?
DS: She can encourage regular testing, PSA — prostate specific antigen levels in the blood — especially for men 40 and over. She can notice if her guy is leaving the dinner table often, or getting up often in the middle of the night to go to the bathroom and isn’t getting enough sleep as a result. Besides the obvious concerns for detecting prostate cancer early, there are other issues of prostate health to watch for that affect a man’s general health. Enlarged prostate, inflamed prostate especially in younger men that can cause great perineum pain.
WOW: There are many medical interventions?
DS: For me, the more you can stay away from medications, the better. When possible, I recommend going with alternative medicine, exercise, vitamins and a healthy diet.
WOW: For instance?
DS: Low fat, high fiber, plenty of tomatoes and grapefruits, selenium, vitamin E and lycopene.
WOW: What about saw palmetto? Isn’t that very popular?
DS: I know that is very popular for prostate, but there are pros and cons. On one hand, it can shrink the enlarged prostate and also lower the PSA to half of normal levels. But that can mask the screening marker and throw us off.
WOW: Normal PSA levels range from 0 to 2.5. Does a higher PSA level mean prostate cancer?
DS: A high PSA does not always by itself mean cancer. There are other factors.
WOW: We read a figure that more than 186,000 men in the United States will be diagnosed with prostate cancer this year. But detected early, the cure rate is 90 percent.
DS: The bottom line is that there is life, quality of life, after prostate cancer.
WOW: You are a urology surgeon trained in oncology, open, laparoscopic and robotic surgery. Mt. Sinai’s robotic and minimal invasive surgery program is considered one of the best in the world. How many prostate surgeries do you do a year?
DS: About 500 to 600. The facility at Mt. Sinai also allows us toprovide patients with a humanitarian outreach as well — caring and help. The biggest criticism I have of robotic surgery sometimes elsewhere is that there are good technicians and good medical engineers, but they are really not cancer surgeons. There are a lot of minimal invasive surgeons who pick up the technology and they claim they can save the nerves and do the right work to save the patient from incontinence and impotence, but in my opinion in order to be a good laparoscopic surgeon you have to be a competent open surgeon and in order to be a good robotic surgeon you have to be an excellent open and laparoscopic surgeon.
WOW: Your work is your passion. Is it true as we read recently in the Daily News that your two children call you Dr. Robot?
DS: [Laughing] Weekends are really the only time I get to see them, so sometimes they come on rounds with me. “My father is a robotic surgeon,” they say.
WOW: Is there a website for women and men who would like more information?
DS: Yes, roboticoncology.com or telephone 1-888-ROBOT10.
Q & A | 09/30/2008 1:45 pm