In the largest multi-institutional study to date, patients diagnosed with bladder cancer and treated with robot-assisted surgery experienced similar results to those who underwent a traditional open operation, according to research led by scientists at Roswell Park Cancer Institute (RPCI). The study results were recently published in the journal of the European Association of Urology.

"We found that robot-assisted radical cystectomy, an advanced surgical procedure used to treat bladder cancer that has spread to the bladder wall or recurred, despite local treatment in the bladder, provides similar early oncological outcomes while reducing operative blood loss," says Khurshid Guru, MD, Director of Robotic Surgery in the Department of Urology at RPCI.

The study is a retrospective review of long-term patient outcomes for cystectomies that currently populate the International Robotic Cystectomy Consortium, which represents 11 institutions in 6 countries. Data from 702 patients with clinically localized bladder cancer from 2003 to date were analyzed for five-year recurrence-free survival (67%), cancer-specific survival (75%) and overall survival (50%). When compared with traditional open surgery, patients treated with robot-assisted surgery experienced similar long-term survival outcomes.

Robot-assisted surgery is a type of minimally invasive surgery (MIS) that uses surgical robotic equipment that imitates surgical movements. MIS procedures allow surgeons to operate through small ports rather than large incisions. For patients, robot-assisted surgery results in possible shorter recovery times and minimal blood loss.

"Simply developing and using new MIS techniques during surgery isn't enough. The medical community demands proof that MIS provides standard oncologic results as effective as open surgical standards," says James Mohler, MD, Associate Director and Senior Vice President for Translational Research at Roswell Park. "This research is useful in continuing to document the viability of the new surgical therapies for the treatment of cancer."

According to the American Cancer Society 74,000 new cases of bladder cancer will be diagnosed in 2015. This work has been supported in part by the Vattikuti Foundation in Michigan.

This research was conducted in collaboration with City of Hope and Beckman Research Institute, Duarte, CA; Henry Ford Health System, Detroit, MI; Karolinska University Hospital, Stockholm, Sweden; Weill Cornell Medical College, New York, NY; Guy's and St Thomas's Hospital, London, UK; Onze-Lieve-Vrouw Ziekenhuis, Aalst, Belgium; Arthur Smith Institute for Urology, New Hyde Park, NY; University Clinics of Saarland, Homburg, Germany; Cleveland Clinic Foundation, Cleveland, OH; Yonsei University Health Systems Severance Hospital, Seoul, Korea.