Robotic surgery growing option for prostate cancer
Local man shares story in National Prostate Cancer Awareness Month
Richard Conner is back to spending time caring for birds at a local aviary after recovering from prostate cancer.
You can’t put a price on how quickly people can get back to their family, job and doing what they love.


LOVELAND, Colo. (Sept. 8, 2017) – With September as National Prostate Cancer Awareness Month, Johnstown resident Richard Conner is sharing his story to bring to light the importance of getting screened and why he chose robotic-assisted surgery.

According to the Prostate Cancer Foundation, prostate cancer affects more than 3 million and is the second most common cancer in U.S. men.

With a year of recovery since the surgery and no sign of prostate cancer in his body, Conner, a retired airline mechanic, says he now feels great and enjoys spending time making stained glass and volunteering at a local aviary.

Conner reflects that with his family history, getting diagnosed with prostate cancer was not a matter of if but a matter of when. In Conner’s family, his grandfather, father and brother have all had prostate cancer.

Dr. Kurt Strom, the McKee Medical Center urologist who treated Conner, said family history is the number one factor when considering if men should get screened, closely followed by an African-American ancestry.

Conner said with his family history he was already getting regular screenings, helping with early diagnosis and allowing for more successful treatment. After reviewing the treatment options with Dr. Strom, which included radiation, surgery, and sometimes combinations thereof, he opted for minimally-invasive surgery.

Conner said his thinking was, “Let’s get it out of there.”

With each treatment option, there are potential side effects, Dr. Strom explains, the most impactful being bladder control, erectile dysfunction and cancer reoccurrence. But with robotic-assisted surgery, patients have only five incisions on the abdomen and benefit from less blood loss and pain as well as a faster recovery time.

“I had the surgery on Monday and went to Costco to go shopping on Thursday,” Conner said, adding that he felt little to no pain.

As the popularity of minimally-invasive surgeries grows, Dr. Strom was one of four surgeons who received a Robotic Surgeons of Excellence certification this year at McKee Medical Center. The hospital, an early adopter of the technology, was also named Colorado’s first Multispecialty Center of Excellence in Robotic Surgery by the Surgical Review Corporation.

“You can’t put a price on how quickly people can get back to their family, job and doing what they love,” Dr. Strom said of the increasing use of minimally-invasive surgery.

He adds with September being National Prostate Cancer Awareness Month, men should understand the importance of knowing their family history, early detection can be life-saving and not all men who are diagnosed need treatment, only those who have clinically significant levels of prostate cancer. Half of those diagnosed are just put on what is called active surveillance.