For the past two decades, November has been celebrated as the month to raise awareness of men’s health issues, particularly prostate and testicular cancers. Here in the US, as well as several other countries including Australia, New Zealand and the UK, men are encouraged to grow mustaches during November as a way to start conversations about the seriousness of what is the most common cancer in men.
According to the National Cancer Institute, the estimated number of new cases of prostate cancer in 2018 will reach 164,690 and estimated deaths will reach almost 30,000.
“Prostate cancer is a serious disease, but most men diagnosed with prostate cancer do not die from it,” said Dr. Nabeel Hamoui, MD, MBA.
Dr. Hamoui, a recent addition to the medical staff at Oak Hill Hospital, is a specialist in urology and interventional radiology. He is board eligible in urology and board certified in interventional radiology (IR) and diagnostic radiology.
He joins his brother, Dr. Omar Hamoui and his father, Dr. Mohammed Nazir Hamoui, who are also urology specialists.
“We’re a family of urologists,” he smiled.
Dr. Hamoui is one of only two people in the entire country who has dual training in urology and radiology/IR. This training helps him in diagnosing and developing a treatment plan for those with urology issues.
Prostate cancer affects the male prostate gland responsible for producing the seminal fluid that nourishes and transports sperm. Symptoms include difficulty with urination, but sometimes there are no symptoms at all.
With testicular cancer, Hamoui explained that symptoms can include a painless lump or swelling on either testicle., There may be a dull ache in the lower abdomen or groin, or perhaps pain, discomfort or numbness, without swelling in a testicle or the scrotum.
With regard to screening tests for cancers, Hamoui stated the debate continues regarding the risks and benefits of prostate cancer screening, and various medical organizations differ on recommendations.
“Cancer screening tests — including the prostate-specific antigen (PSA) test — can be a good test to look for early signs of prostate cancer,” Hamoui explained. “But professional organizations vary in their recommendations about who should — and who shouldn’t — get a PSA screening test. While some have definitive guidelines, the decision is up to each individual and their doctor.”
“Some types of prostate cancer grow slowly,” Hamoui explained. “In some of those cases, we recommend monitoring regularly. Other types are more aggressive and require radiation, surgery or other treatments,” he said.
Until recently, men with prostate cancer had few surgery choices. Historically, open surgery (a prostatectomy) involved large incisions and various post-operative side effects. The procedure removed the entire cancerous gland but there were risks of excessive blood loss, post-op infections, long hospital stays, and pain. Following the procedure, patient activity was limited and could result in loss of bladder control and perhaps sexual dysfunction.
“Those procedures were common back in the 90s,” said Hamoui. “Whether you had one cancerous cell or hundreds, the option was to remove the offending gland,” he said. “For low volume cancers, it’s like sending in the Navy SEALs for a speeding ticket.”
“We’ve come a long way since then,” Hamoui explained. “We have screening options now available and minimally invasive surgical procedures we can perform using a robotic surgical system.
With so many new cases diagnosed each year, Oak Hill Hospital is consistently at the forefront of providing its patients with up-to-date improvements in medical surgical technology.
Earlier this year, the hospital acquired the latest update to the da Vinci robotic assisted surgical system, which was first introduced at the hospital in 2013.
The updated da Vinci Xi system, has broader capabilities than prior generations of the system and can be used across a wide spectrum of minimally invasive surgical procedures. It was designed specifically for further advancement in the technology used for conditions in urology, for example.
Dr. Hamoui uses the advanced surgical, four-arm technology as a tool that he can manually control, typically through a small opening in the patient’s body to remove the walnut-shaped organ.
According to Dr. Hamoui, the robotic surgical platform enables complex procedures of all types to be performed through one or two centimeter incisions or operating “ports.”
“We’re seeing very real advantages to using da Vinci technology for prostate surgery – a very short recovery time in the hospital, less pain, easier recuperation and most important of all, continued quality of life for our patients,” Hamoui said.
“Robotic assisted surgery is the future,” Hamoui said. “We are moving into areas of local treatments and not ‘throwing the baby out with the bath water’ anymore and sparing our patients all the complications that arise with open surgery.”