Living Cancer Free and Worry Free

Thanks to Robotic Prostatectomy

Ryan Yantz, the busy owner of a heating and cooling company in Jamestown, had been avoiding getting his routine annual blood work done for at least two years when Dr. Chris Sewell, his family physician and also a close friend, finally persuaded him to have it done.

The tests found that Yantz, only 45 at the time, had a PSA level of 4.8, considered high for someone in his 40s. He was referred to Upper Cumberland Urology Associates, where Dr. Quinton Cancel performed a biopsy. Seven of the 12 samples taken came back positive for a low-grade form of cancer.

“Based on what we knew at the time, he had an 83 percent chance of cure and a good chance that it was contained to his prostate,” said Dr. Cancel.

Yantz had to make a choice between surgery and radiation for his treatment.

“At my age, I wasn’t planning to have any more children, and I didn’t want to give it an opportunity to spread somewhere else or be outside of the prostate,” said Yantz. Dr. Cancel agreed with Yantz’ decision and scheduled surgery.

“I think the main benefit of surgery is just knowing the full extent of the cancer with tissue analysis,” said Dr. Cancel. “And for people like Mr. Yantz, if the disease is confined to your prostate at the time of surgery, you’re cured, and there’s very, very little chance of it ever coming back.”

Dr. Cancel performed robotic prostatectomy on Yantz using the da Vinci® surgical robot in May 2013.

“I got to my room from surgery about 1:00 or 1:30 in the afternoon, and at 11:30 the next morning, I was home,” said Yantz. “I never even had any discomfort to speak of. A week and a half later, I went back to work full time, and I haven’t looked back since.”

And, thanks to the precision the da Vinci robot allows a surgeon to achieve, Yantz regained all of his functions following surgery.

“With the technology we have now, it’s easier to be more precise in how we take the prostate out, how we spare the nerves for erection, how we preserve the bladder neck, how we support the urethra underneath, allowing us to have better outcomes than before,” said Dr. Cancel. Yantz returned to Dr. Cancel for follow-up visits every three months for two years, and now he only visits every six months.

“I was told I need to be the poster boy for being checked early, because at 45, prostate cancer is not something that you hear of a lot, but it does happen,” said Yantz.

Dr. Cancel recommends that all men get a baseline PSA reading at age 40 to determine what is normal for them and then to have annual screenings beginning at age 45. However, men in high-risk categories — African Americans and those with a first-degree relative who has had prostate cancer — should begin having annual screenings at age 40.

“I’m a firm believer in catching things early,” said Dr. Cancel, “because then you stand the greatest chance of cure.”