[From physorg.com. All emphasis, e.g., boldface or italic typeface, is mine.]

“Prostate Cancer Surgery Performed by Many Surgeons with Little Experience”

November 19, 2009

(PhysOrg.com) — A new study from researchers at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center has found that the majority of surgeons treating prostate cancer in the United States have extremely low annual caseloads,

“The research was published in the December issue of The Journal of Urology. Andrew Vickers, PhD, Associate Attending Research Methodologist in the Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, led an analysis of data on radical prostatectomy, the surgical removal of the prostate for men with prostate cancer. Of US surgeons treating prostate cancer patients in 2005, more than 25 percent performed only a single radical prostatectomy that year and approximately 80 percent of surgeons performed fewer than ten such procedures.

“It is known that surgical volume is associated with improved patient outcomes, and fewer complications.  Previous work from this team has indicated that a surgeon’s lifetime experience with radical prostatectomy is strongly associated with cancer control;  patients treated by experienced surgeons had a 40 percent lower risk of a cancer recurrence than patients treated by inexperienced surgeons. The importance of experience in cancer outcomes has been termed the “learning curve.”

“We have previously shown that a surgeon needs to conduct an average of 250 radical prostatectomies to give patients the best chance of cure,” said Dr. Vickers, “so we decid