I wouldn't wish prostate surgery on my worst enemies.
Not only is it often completely unnecessary since prostate cancer isn't nearly the killer it's been made out to be -- but the treatments themselves are often worse than the disease and come with more risks than your surgeon will ever let on.
And that's true even if your surgeon happens to be made of metal.
Robot-assisted prostate surgeries have become all the rage in recent years, involved in up to 85 percent of all procedures in the United States.
But that's not a triumph of technology so much as marketing: Many patients agree to them because they've been led to believe robo-surgeries are safer and better than traditional surgeries.
Researchers asked 600 Medicare patients who had undergone prostate surgery about their side effects, and a full 90 percent of them reported moderate to severe sexual dysfunction 14 months later.
It didn't matter if they were among the 400 patients who got a robot-assisted procedure... or the 200 who got the traditional surgery. The results were the same either way.
And in both groups, about a third of the patients reported incontinence problems -- with slightly more men in the robot group battling the leakage.
This isn't some groundbreaking study, either. In fact, the research has been consistent: These high-tech procedures don't lower the risks of side effects or even improve outcomes.
But while robots aren't bringing better results to the OR, they're delivering big on the balance sheet: Hospitals charge up to $2,000 more for robot-assisted surgeries.
They have to. The machines alone can cost several million dollars, not to mention training and maintenance fees.
Most hospitals have to take out loans to cover it all -- and when you've got payment deadlines coming up, you've got extra pressure to make sure the machine starts bringing in cash the moment it's plugged in.
That's why hospitals that buy robots launch big, misleading ad campaigns -- and that's why studies have shown that facilities that get the machines begin doing more procedures almost overnight, even in areas where prostate surgeries in general are on the decline.
In a nutshell, that means hospitals and surgeons are aggressively pushing patients to not only get a surgery that research shows they don't actually need, but a more expensive high-tech version of the procedure that doesn't improve outcomes or even decrease the risk of side effects.
And people wonder why the healthcare system is a mess!