Read Original Story

Robotic prostate surgery may mean big trade-off


5 Star

Robotic prostate surgery may mean big trade-off

Our Review Summary

A very informative story that helps frame for readers some of the complications with respect to treatment options.  In the face of claims in advertisements, it provided a clear set of questions about issues that may otherwise be bypassed.  Especially with respect to a treatment option that on the surface appears to be the latest and greatest, it is helpful to remind consumers that there are long term issues to be considered as well as the highlighted short term gains.  This was a valuable story that can be used by readers to prepare questions to help them assess the relative value in the treatment options available.


Does the story adequately discuss the costs of the intervention?

Not Satisfactory

There was no discussion of costs.

Does the story adequately quantify the benefits of the treatment/test/product/procedure?


The story clearly mentioned the reduction in hospitalization time, need for blood transfusions, and internal scarring were benefits of the procedure though it did not provide quantitative details.  In addition, the story did provide quantitative data on the 30-day risk of  sexual and urinary function complications.

Does the story seem to grasp the quality of the evidence?


The story provided information that would better enable people to read between the lines and ask relevant questions about claims made with respect to outcomes following surgery.  It described a study comparing outcomes for men having their prostates removed using different approaches.  It also included sufficient detail for readers to understand some of the limitations about the study data.

However the story is incorrect in stating that it’s not clear whether either surgery is superior to watchful waiting.  In fact, the traditional surgery has been proven to reduce the risk of dying from prostate cancer compared to watchful waiting in a controlled trial–the highest level of evidence.  But – and this is important in the context of this particular story –  there is no similar evidence for the laparoscopic surgeries.

Does the story commit disease-mongering?


The story did not engage in disease mongering.

Does the story use independent sources and identify conflicts of interest?


Comments from several clinicians were included in this piece to point out some of the potential confounders with the study results.

It was mildly amusing that one of the clinicians interviewed stated categorically that there are over 800 previous studies on robot-assisted prostate -v the majority of which demonstrate superiority.  This is an awfully large number of studies about a relatively new technology; further, one of the important points of this story is that there are both short term and longer term outcomes to be considered.

Does the story compare the new approach with existing alternatives?


The story mentioned different approaches to the removal of the prostate as well as complete list of the treatment options for early stage prostate cancer.

Does the story establish the availability of the treatment/test/product/procedure?


The story indicated that the robotic apparatus needed for the procedure reported on is not available in all facilities though it was becoming more common.

Does the story establish the true novelty of the approach?


The story included the trajectory of use for the treatment.

Does the story appear to rely solely or largely on a news release?


Does not appear to rely on a press release.

Total Score: 9 of 10 Satisfactory


Please note, comments are no longer published through this website. All previously made comments are still archived and available for viewing through select posts.