Joel B. Nelson, M.D., chairman of the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center's (UPMC) Department of Urology, performed his 2,000th radical prostatectomy at UPMC Shadyside, a milestone achieved by only a handful of surgeons worldwide. Radical prostatectomy, or removal of the entire prostate gland, is the most common treatment for patients with localized prostate cancer. Studies show that recovery from prostate cancer is significantly associated with a surgeon's lifetime experience performing this operation.

"Research supports common sense: Patients undergoing surgery by more experienced surgeons will have a better chance of being cured of their cancer," said Dr. Nelson. "With a practice entirely focused on men with localized prostate cancer has come a wealth of experience, leading to continuous refinement in surgical technique and improved outcomes. For most patients, a one-day hospital stay is routine."

Surgeons in the Department of Urology also offer robotic-assisted laparoscopic radical prostatectomy. Initiated in 2004, UPMC's robotic prostatectomy program was the first in the region, and surgeons in the department recently performed their 500th robotic procedure.

Dr. Nelson joined UPMC in 1999 to lead the newly formed Department of Urology. He is one of the country's leading surgeons performing nerve-sparing radical prostatectomy, an operation in which a cancerous prostate gland is removed but the nerves controlling erections are not. More than 90 percent of his operations are nerve-sparing, which is a significantly higher percentage than the national average.

After earning his medical degree from Northwestern University, Dr. Nelson completed surgical and urological residencies at the McGraw Medical Center of Northwestern University and a fellowship at the Johns Hopkins Brady Urological Institute. He also served as assistant professor of urology and oncology at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and director of urologic oncology at the Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center.

University of Pittsburgh Medical Center

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