Amadi O Two Cancers, One Patient

“I felt no pain after the first few days, and the nurses were on the phone with me regularly to track how I was doing, so it was an incredibly smooth recovery.”

The words “you have cancer” can change a person’s outlook in an instant. Amadi Oguagha, 68, a father of five from Brick, received this message twice at different times in his life.

Pierre Mendoza, MD
Pierre Mendoza, MD

The two tumors were located in different parts of his body and were treated nine years apart but shared similarities. Both were treated using state-of-the-art robotic technology at Monmouth Medical Center (MMC) by the same doctor, Pierre Mendoza, MD, a urologist and Director of Robotic Surgery. And both successful treatments entailed minimal pain and a speedy return to normal life.

A Problematic Prostate

Oguagha’s first brush with cancer came in early 2012. “I was feeling uncomfortable down in my lower region, which brought me to get checked out,” Oguagha says. “I just felt that something was wrong.”

He scheduled an appointment to see Dr. Mendoza and was immediately screened with a PSA test, which measures a substance in blood called prostate-specific antigen. When the test came back with an elevated level, Oguagha underwent a biopsy that revealed he had prostate cancer.

After reviewing treatment options with Dr. Mendoza, Oguagha elected to have a robotic prostatectomy to remove the cancerous gland. The advanced procedure was performed through four small, laparoscopic incisions rather than the long incisions used during a traditional open surgery.

“Robotic surgery translates to faster recovery, less pain, shorter hospital stays and faster return to regular activity,” says Dr. Mendoza. “The technology also features specialized instrumentation that offers advantages such as a more accurate and precise dissection, which often leads to less blood loss and sparing of delicate structures such as nerves and blood vessels.”

Oguagha recovered quickly. In follow-up visits, Dr. Mendoza kept watch for any signs of cancer returning. Oguagha’s cancer-free progress seemed steady: Visits every three months for the first year were lessened to every six months the following year and once a year after that as he continued to be clear of disease.

Kidney Concerns

Then in 2018, Dr. Mendoza made a suspicious discovery. Though Oguagha felt few symptoms aside from slight pain toward the right side of his back, he had microscopic blood in his urine, which can indicate kidney cancer.

An MRI revealed that Oguagha had a lesion on his kidney. The lesion was small—so small and relatively harmless-looking in images that Dr. Mendoza advised monitoring it with follow-up radiography without treatment unless something changed.

Over the next three years, however, the abnormal mass began to look more threatening. “It didn’t grow much, but its appearance changed in ways that increased the likelihood of malignancy, or cancer,” Dr. Mendoza says.

In August 2021, Oguagha decided to have a robotic-assisted right partial nephrectomy, a surgery that would remove the section of the kidney where the troubling lesion was located.

During the procedure, four small incisions allowed Dr. Mendoza to insert robotic surgical equipment and a camera. Inflating the body cavity with carbon dioxide gas provided extra room to manipulate instruments that removed the tumor while sparing the rest of the kidney.

Oguagha was released the following day and returned home to his family. “I felt no pain after the first few days, and the nurses were on the phone with me regularly to track how I was doing, so it was an incredibly smooth recovery,” Oguagha says. “The scars were so small that they are now blending with my body.”

Oguagha is now clear of both types of cancer and has a very good prognosis, according to Dr. Mendoza: “Having undergone two successful treatments at MMC using the latest advancements in surgery and robotic technology, Amadi is a very well-cared-for individual, and as a result, he’s had very positive outcomes.”

Honing High-Tech Surgery

Monmouth Medical Center (MMC) was an early adopter of robotic surgical technology and continually hones capabilities with a program offering:

  • The latest tools. MMC continues to stay on the cutting edge with state-of-the-art technologies such as single-port systems that allow increasingly advanced surgical instruments to enter the body through a single incision.
  • Advanced imaging. Cameras used inside the body provide high-definition, 3D views and high magnification that offer surgeons precise views of small or tightly spaced structures.
  • Specialized staff. “We have the nurses, staff and administration to make what I consider the best program in our area,” says Pierre Mendoza, MD, Director of Robotic Surgery. “Robotics has revolutionized the way we do surgery.”

To learn if you’re a candidate for robotic surgery at Monmouth Medical Center, call 732-923-6070.