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Skilled Surgeon & Advanced Robotics Combine to Provide Better Outcomes for Men with Prostate Cancer

Apr 19, 2021, 18:36 PM by Sanum Clinic

Santa Barbara area residents, Len Price and Doug Zylstra both recently found themselves to be among the approximately 1 in 8 American men who will be diagnosed with prostate cancer in their lifetime.

Treatment for prostate cancer ranges from conservative management, hormonal treatments, cryosurgery, radiation therapy, to surgical removal of the prostate. The best course or treatment depends on a number of factors, including the stage of the disease, age, overall health and personal preference.

Doug Zylstra


For such a critical moment, Len and Doug each sought a surgeon with the utmost skill and experience – and superior outcomes. Their search led them both to Santa Barbara’s own Dr. Scott Tobis, a urologist and surgeon specializing in robotic-assisted prostatectomy at Sansum Clinic.

The decision to surgically treat prostate cancer involves many considerations and Dr. Tobis took the time to carefully explain the best treatment options to help his patients decide the best course of action for them.

“The advances in minimally-invasive robotic-assisted surgery provides a superior surgical approach to prostate cancer removal,” explains Dr. Tobis.

Dr. Tobis performs more robotic surgery and radical prostatectomies than any other urologic surgeon on the Central Coast. He is one of a small number of area urologists trained in the use of the da Vinci® Surgical System, which allows him to operate by controlling tiny medical instruments via a computer console. Surgeries performed with da Vinci typically involve just a few small incisions which results in less postoperative pain and hospital stays that are usually about a day for robotic prostatectomy patients.

Two important post-surgical factors for prostatectomy patients are continence and sexual potency. Over last several years, Dr. Tobis has treated hundreds of patients utilizing the da Vinci System. This experience is important in not only removing the prostate cancer completely, but in minimizing the side effects associated with prostate cancer treatment.

Len Price


In prostate cancer surgery, millimeters matter. Nerve fibers and blood vessels are attached to the prostate and must be delicately separated from the prostate before its removal. The precision, vision and control of the da Vinci System helps Dr. Tobis to spare nerves that are vital to normal function.

“The da Vinci is extremely responsive and very precise,” Dr. Tobis explains. “Robotic surgery is more refined and has great magnification, you see better and are able to preserve more tissue for sexual function and there’s also faster recovery of urinary continence.”

This advanced approach, combined with his surgical skill allows Dr. Tobis’ patients to enjoy a faster, more full recovery and get back to their normal life sooner.

Len recalls, “I was back to work within a week. I walk often and within, I think, two or three weeks I was hiking again. So, the physical impact and side effects were pretty minimal.”

“When I received my diagnosis, I had a few well-meaning friends telling me I need to go to Los Angeles or even to Chicago right away for the best treatment,” explains Doug. “I knew deep down in my heart that I would find somebody here in Santa Barbara. And I knew right away that I had found that person when I met Dr. Tobis.”

“Somebody told me that he is a great guy, and I said, ‘I don’t need a great guy, I need a great surgeon.’ and, I found both in Dr. Tobis.”

Scott Tobis

Dr. Scott Tobis graduated from Dartmouth Medical School and has fellowship training in robotic surgery and urologic oncology from City of Hope National Medical Center. He is certified by the American Board of Urology and has significant experience in the minimally-invasive surgical treatment of many benign and malignant urologic conditions. Dr. Tobis treats patients for many urologic conditions including urologic cancers, prostate enlargement/BPH, vasectomy, kidney stones, frequent/urgent urination, erectile dysfunction, incontinence, and blood in the urine.

For more information, contact the Sansum Clinic Urology Department at (805) 681-7564 or visit for more information about therapy options.