The Fast Track Back
As executive vice president of a pharmaceutical marketing company, Steve Kreshover often caught up on phone calls during his rush hour drive from Princeton to his home in Doylestown. It was such a part of his routine that he even called his urologist for his "precautionary" biopsy results.
Then Lee Schachter, MD, director, Robotic Surgery Program at Abington Memorial Hospital, had to tell Steve by phone that he had prostate cancer.
"It took my breath away," says the 50-year-old married father of two. "I never dreamed it would be positive."
Steve placed the next call to his wife, Jackie. "I was in the middle of giving my order at the deli counter," Jackie recalls. "I couldn't speak. Our whole world changed."
By the next afternoon, the Kreshovers were sitting in the urologic surgeon's office.
"Dr. Schachter was so wonderful," Jackie adds. "We needed to know what this diagnosis really meant and what our options were."
Steve says, "Before we talked with Dr. Schachter, I was so scared. But we came out of that meeting with a better understanding and a plan - for fighting back. We felt so relieved."
"Most of the guys didn't know
much about the PSA. Some said they
only went to the doctor when they
were really sick. Hopefully my story
will change that."
Fortunately, Steve's cancer was detected in its earliest stage, thanks to careful monitoring by his Abington family doctor and Dr. Schachter. Steve had no symptoms, just slight elevations in his PSA levels over time. PSA, or prostate specific antigen, is a test that can detect the presence of prostate cancer cells in the blood.
Dr. Schachter recommended that Steve have a robotic prostatectomy (removal of the prostate) to treat his cancer. Abington Memorial Hospital offers patients the latest in robotic surgical treatment through its da Vinci S Robotic Surgical System®.
The system is used by a number of Abington surgical specialists to perform highly complex procedures through minimally invasive means. This leading- edge technology is not available at many hospitals in the region.
Urologic surgeons like Dr. Schachter perform robotic prostatectomies through a series of tiny abdominal incisions. The procedure eliminates the need to cut through muscle and results in significantly less blood loss, scarring and pain. Patients recover faster with less discomfort.
According to Dr. Schachter, "The da Vinci surgeon's console resembles a highly sophisticated gaming station positioned about four feet from the patient on the operating table. Viewing a 3D high definition image, the surgeon makes ‘incisions' that are translated via precise computer processors to four robotic arms.
"We can achieve a range of motion even greater than the human wrist," he explains, "while all the movements are under the complete control of the surgeon. The precision allows us to transcend traditional surgical boundaries."
Since the biopsy of prostate tissue causes inflammation, Steve had to wait a minimum of six weeks before having the robotic surgery. Already a regular exerciser, he put extra miles on his bike and on his feet, running and doing aerobics. He even joined a yoga class at his gym.
"Dr. Schachter said my outcome could be enhanced if I were in great shape. Exercise was the one variable I could control, so I really pushed myself during the weeks before the surgery and watched my diet."
He also became proactive from a mental perspective. "I called about 20 of my male friends and asked them if they had regular PSA tests. Most of the guys didn't know much about the PSA. Some said they only went to the doctor when they were really sick. Hopefully my story will change that."
Steve had everything going for him when he entered the Abington operating suite on November 11, 2009. "My wife's love and support have served as my rock through everything. And I had complete trust in Dr. Schachter."
In a day and a half, Steve was home from the hospital. By the end of the first week, he got around the house without discomfort.
Just three weeks later, he was back to his routine. "I feel great," Steve grins.
Now cancer free, he sees his diagnosis as just another bump in the road.
For more information about robotic surgery, visit www.amh.org/robotic-surgery.