A team of six surgeons successfully removed Emperor Akihito’s cancerous prostate gland at the University of Tokyo Hospital on Saturday and there were no signs that the disease had spread, surgeons said.

The operation lasted 3 hours and 40 minutes and “ended in success,” Medical Supervisor of the Imperial Household Ichiro Kanazawa told a news conference Saturday afternoon.

“There were no visible signs of the cancer having spread, but to be certain, we will make an announcement after a pathological check has been conducted,” the surgeon said.

The operation to remove the 69-year-old Emperor’s entire gland began just before 8 a.m. After waking up from the anesthetic, he was returned to his room in an inpatient tower at the hospital.

The Emperor is in stable condition and later spoke with Empress Michiko and their daughter, Princess Sayako, according to Kanazawa.

The operation was led by surgeons Tadaichi Kitamura, 55, and Tadao Kakizoe, 61. Kitamura is a professor of urology at the university hospital, while Kakizoe is president of the National Cancer Center. According to medical experts, Kitamura and Kakizoe are among the most eminent authorities on the treatment of prostate cancer in Japan.

The operation carried a slight risk of causing bleeding from veins around the prostate. But the bleeding was less than expected, and the surgeons were able to make do with blood drawn from the Emperor beforehand for transfusions, Kanazawa said.

An unspecified amount of blood was drawn from the Emperor on three occasions before the operation, according to the Imperial Household Agency.

“It is highly likely that the cancer will be completely cured after the prostatectomy,” a doctor said earlier. Doctors said an earlier exam showed the cancer was well differentiated and had not spread to other parts of the Emperor’s body.

The operation was the first time a Japanese Emperor had undergone surgery outside the Hospital of the Imperial Household.

The Emperor, whose blood tests over the last couple of years revealed slight signs of abnormality in the prostate, was diagnosed with cancer in late December at the Hospital of the Imperial Household.

He was admitted to the University of Tokyo Hospital on Thursday morning.

The surgery was performed jointly by a three-doctor team from the university hospital’s urology department under Kitamura and a three-doctor team from the National Cancer Center under Kakizoe.

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