Ed Koorbusch with his wife Sharon and daughter Jillian
Ed Koorbusch had a strong family history of prostate cancer -- his father, uncle and grandfather had all been diagnosed with the disease -- so he knew the importance of early screening. He began having regular PSA (prostate specific antigen) tests in his early 40’s to keep a close eye on his own prostate health.
Parents of three boys, Koorbusch and his wife, Sharon, knew that they wanted another child. "We had been blessed with having three healthy boys naturally. When we decided to have another child, my wife and I decided to adopt as a way to give a child from somewhere in the world a loving home," he says. After considering all the available options, the couple decided to adopt a baby girl from China.
As they began the formal adoption process, Koorbusch scheduled an appointment with his urologist to have a vasectomy in January, 2007.
“My PSA was good at 0.5, but my doctor noted a small irregularity in my prostate during the physical exam. He recommended that we get a biopsy while he was already in there to do the vasectomy,” Koorbusch says. A week later, he was told that the biopsy was positive; he had prostate cancer.
Koorbusch had a pretty good idea about the available treatment options. His father had external beam radiation therapy, and his uncle, who is a physician, had a traditional, open prostatectomy (surgical removal of the prostate) in the Midwest. Both of them did well. “My main concern, beyond ensuring a good long-term outcome, was being able to make the 16-hour flight to China on short notice if needed. All of the treatments were good, but I wanted the method that would have me back to normal as quickly as possible. We didn’t want to do anything that might interfere with our chances of moving ahead with the adoption,” he notes.
By this time, the couple had been approved to adopt and were waiting for the final paperwork. “Once we got the call, we knew it could be as soon as two weeks before we would need to leave to travel to China to pick up our daughter.”
After talking with family, friends and business associates, Koorbusch was referred to a urologic surgeon with the Genitourinary Oncology Program at the University of Maryland Marlene and Stewart Greenebaum Cancer Center in Baltimore. After meeting with the surgeon, Koorbusch decided to have a robot-assisted laparoscopic prostatectomy, a minimally invasive surgical treatment for prostate cancer. The robotic surgery meant that Koorbusch would have a quicker recovery than traditional open surgery to remove the prostate, and have no concerns about possibly being radioactive for a brief time after seeds, while still promising excellent results in eliminating his cancer.
On March 21, the couple traveled to the University of Maryland for the surgery from their home in the Leesburg, Virginia, an hour from Baltimore. The surgery involved six small incisions through which were inserted robotic arms equipped with tiny surgical instruments and a camera that provided 10X magnification. The surgeon remotely manipulated the instruments to remove the prostate while carefully sparing blood vessels, nerves and muscles that control urinary and sexual function. The robotic technology allows for better precision, control and access to delicate, hard-to-reach structures in the body.
Koorbusch had the robotic prostatectomy on a Wednesday. He was home and feeling virtually back to normal on Friday. He reports having very little discomfort following the surgery. “The only real inconvenience was having a catheter for about a week. I was restricted from working out at the gym or lifting anything heavy for a few weeks. I started swimming my fourth week, and was back at the gym five weeks after surgery,” he says.
“The brief hospital stay was great. My room was very comfortable, and had a sleeper sofa so that my wife could spend the nightThe doctor and his team did an excellent job. I have no side effects from the surgery,” says Koorbusch. In June 2007, the couple received the long-awaited call from the adoption agency to say that they should prepare to travel to China. In August, they traveled to central China to meet their new daughter, Jillian, who was then 18 months old.
After more than two years of waiting, the adoption process was finally coming to an end. Thanks to early screening, expert care and cutting-edge technology, a prostate cancer diagnosis and treatment turned out to be only a minor speed bump in the road.
For more information on robot-assisted laparoscopic prostatectomy or other programs and services of the University of Maryland Marlene and Stewart Greenebaum Cancer Center, please call 1-800-888-8823.