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Building on basics

Finding better ways to treat kidney cancer

When Brassesco went to UC Davis Medical Center for a consulting appointment, his urologic oncologist said he was an excellent candidate to have the procedure done laparoscopically by Dr. Sakti Das, a professor of urology in the UC Davis School of Medicine.

"Normally, when they remove a kidney, they practically have to cut you in half," Brassesco says. "I felt like I was too old to get cut in half, so I went for the other procedure."

Laparoscopic nephrectomy isn't new - it was first performed in 1990. Still, not many surgeons use it as part of their arsenal of tools. "There are about 6,000 board certified urologists in the United States," says Das. "Fewer than one percent perform laparoscopic nephrectomy for kidney cancer."

The reasons? Time and opportunity. It takes many hours of training to become proficient, says Das, who has written textbooks and lectured in the United States and overseas on this procedure. And after that, a surgeon in a small community may need to use it once a year.

"It also takes longer in the operating room than conventional surgery," Das adds. "You reduce the hospital stay but you take longer in the O.R."


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