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Pathologist Has Prostate Cancer Surgery

RS Pollack, Sun Sentinel - Jun, 10 2002

As a pathologist for more than 40 years, Dr. Njoek San Ie had seen firsthand the devastating effects of cancer.

So when, at 71, Ie discovered he was a victim of prostate cancer, he made an informed and very deliberate decision.

"If I have cancer in my body, I want it out," said Ie, who spent more than 25 years as a pathologist at Florida Medical Center South before retiring four years ago.

That wasn't easy. Because of his age and medical condition, few if any doctors practicing the traditional surgery to remove the prostate would even consider seeing him. And who could blame them?

The traditional surgery is tough on the body. And the chances of a 71-year-old man with high blood pressure and diabetes coming out better off than he was before surgery aren't that great. The alternative for Ie was radiation seed implants or external radiation.

Then Ie asked a veteran urologist and friend about a new surgery being performed by Dr. Arnon Krongrad of Aventura, called laparoscopic radical prostatectomy.

It wasn't long before Ie was getting what he had been seeking -- the full removal of the cancer.

"Four hours after the surgery I was walking around," said Ie, of Plantation.

While there is no way of knowing whether the surgery will prolong his life, Ie thinks he is far better off having had the cancer removed than he would be if he had gone through alternatives.

Ie, according to Krongrad, was very driven in his desire to have the growth removed. "Having seen these tumors over the years, he was very troubled," Krongrad said. "He was determined to rid himself of the cancer once and for all.

"Dr. Ie achieved his objective of having the cancer removed with a minimum amount of inconvenience, pain and risk," added Krongrad, one of the first urologists to perform the laparoscopic surgery. "What more can you ask for?"

Traditionally, Krongrad says, prostate surgery has been a highly invasive operation that required four to six weeks of recovery time, not to mention lots of pain and bleeding.

The laparoscopic procedure is much less invasive. With the help of a voice-activated camera inserted into the body, doctors make four small incisions, each about the size of a dime, and manipulate surgical instruments externally.

Less bleeding means less loss of energy for patients, Krongrad said. Because there is less cutting of tissue, there is less pain and recovery time.

"We have patients back to work in 48 hours," Krongrad said.

Both Krongrad, who performs his surgeries at North Shore Medical Center in Miami, and Ie think laparoscopic surgery will become more common for many procedures.

"Everybody who needs surgery should think about getting this procedure done by someone who is well trained," said Ie, who still thinks the decision is a personal one.

And it is a personal one he's glad he made.

Do you have a recent story of hope? Have you overcome adversity in raising a family, been involved in a rescue or beaten the odds medically? Contact Steve Plunkett at splunkett@sun-sentinel.com or 954-356-4775.

Copyright © 2002, South Florida Sun-Sentinel
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