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UTSW surgeon implants artificial sphincter to improve quality of life after prostate cancer surgery

Procedure at UT Southwestern’s Clements University Hospital helps retired firefighter

Roger McCurley, a retired Flower Mound firefighter, underwent surgery at UT Southwestern Medical Center in 2020 for aggressive prostate cancer, then had an artificial urinary sphincter (AUS) implanted in February 2021.

DALLAS – Nov. 18, 2022 – A first responder for almost four decades, Roger McCurley had made hundreds of hospital runs while providing emergency service to people in the midst of the worst days of their lives. When the retired Flower Mound firefighter needed expert medical help himself, he was referred to urinary surgeons at UT Southwestern Medical Center.

“When I retired in 2017 after 38 years, my only experience with hospitals was taking other patients there,” Mr. McCurley says. “As a firefighter, we had regular checkups and bloodwork done. But I let it lapse for a couple of years and my PSA went from a 3 to a 7.2.”

The resident of Northlake, west of Dallas, underwent surgery at UTSW in 2020 for aggressive prostate cancer, as a team removed lesion-riddled glands along with some surrounding tissue and nerves. The procedure, while successful in eradicating the disease, left Mr. McCurley with urinary incontinence that soaked three to six pads a day.

In February 2021, Mr. McCurley again came to UT Southwestern’s William P. Clements Jr. University Hospital, this time for Steven Hudak, M.D., to surgically implant an artificial urinary sphincter (AUS) to alleviate urinary leakage. The AUS, which typically can provide relief for a decade or more, is a small, fluid-filled ring that goes around the urethra, just downstream from the native sphincter. Inflated, it prevents flow. Deflated with the press of a button, it relieves urine accumulation by allowing the patient to urinate normally.

Steven Hudak, M.D.

“I’ve been a happy camper since the surgery. You don’t even know it’s there. As long as I’m careful and make sure the cuff inflates afterward, I don’t have any issues,” Mr. McCurley says.

“The AUS surgery to correct his urinary incontinence has improved his quality of life,” says Dr. Hudak, an Associate Professor of Urology and UTSW faculty member since 2019. “His positive outlook and high satisfaction thoroughly impressed me.”

Since his surgeries, Mr. McCurley has returned to many of his regular activities and also has taken part in some of the research at UT Southwestern that helped determine the likely cause of his cancer.

“I was happy to take part in a clinical trial, as the firefighting community has become much more aware of the threat of cancer in the past few years,” Mr. McCurley says. “My younger brother, who’s also a firefighter, also has had prostate cancer.”

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that aside from non-melanoma skin cancer, prostate cancer is the most common cancer among men in the United States. In 2019, the latest reportable year and about the time Mr. McCurley was diagnosed, there were 224,733 new cases in the U.S. and 31,636 deaths.

Approximately 10% of men treated for prostate cancer will undergo surgery to correct urinary incontinence, with only a minority of those having access to specialized centers like UTSW, says Dr. Hudak, a faculty member since 2019 after having served a 15-year active-duty military career. His advanced training includes a urological trauma, reconstruction, and prosthetics fellowship at UT Southwestern, which he completed in 2012.

Mr. McCurley proudly represented UT Southwestern by presenting the game ball at the Dallas Mavericks’ basketball game against the visiting Houston Rockets on Nov. 16 at American Airlines Center. 

“You couldn’t ask for better treatment than you receive here. UT Southwestern is unmatched,” Mr. McCurley says.

About UT Southwestern Medical Center

UT Southwestern, one of the nation’s premier academic medical centers, integrates pioneering biomedical research with exceptional clinical care and education. The institution’s faculty has received six Nobel Prizes, and includes 24 members of the National Academy of Sciences, 18 members of the National Academy of Medicine, and 14 Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigators. The full-time faculty of more than 2,900 is responsible for groundbreaking medical advances and is committed to translating science-driven research quickly to new clinical treatments. UT Southwestern physicians provide care in more than 80 specialties to more than 100,000 hospitalized patients, more than 360,000 emergency room cases, and oversee nearly 4 million outpatient visits a year.