August 4, 2017 | by City of Hope
More than 107,470 women in the United States are diagnosed with gynecologic cancers each year. That number includes cervical, ovarian, uterine, vaginal and vulvar cancers. However, thanks to developments in technology, many of these cancers can now be treated with robotic surgery.
“As gynecologic oncologists, we perform a great deal of robotic surgery,” said Mehdi M. Kebria, M.D., assistant clinical professor in the Division of Gynecologic Oncology in the Department of Surgery at City of Hope.
If you’ve been diagnosed with a gynecologic cancer, here’s what you should know about robotic surgery.
Robotic surgery is a truly high-tech option. These procedures use a dual camera that provides surgeons with high-definition images and a 3-D view. “It gives us depth perception and improves visualization of the surgical field,” said Kebria.
Robotic surgery also uses precise, flexible instruments, allowing surgeons to perform complex procedures through a tiny incision. As a result, according to Kebria, robotic surgery is much less invasive than traditional open surgery. “The incisions are smaller, there is faster recovery for the patients and, usually, they experience less pain.”
And, he added, research studies suggest minimally invasive techniques tend to have fewer complications, and they are just as effective as traditional open surgery for treating gynecologic cancers.
Robotic surgery isn’t the right solution for everyone. In patients with advanced ovarian cancer, for instance, traditional open surgery is still the best way to ensure that surgeons can reach and remove all of the cancer, said Kebria. “We reserve minimally invasive surgeries mostly for patients with endometrial cancers, cervical cancers and early stage ovarian cancer.”
Kebria recommends that women with gynecologic cancers see a specialist, such as a gynecologic oncologist, with specific training in treating these diseases. “There are several studies that have shown patients’ outcomes are better if they are treated by a specialized surgeon,” he said.
The specialists at City of Hope started using robotic technology early on, and have extensive experience treating gynecologic cancers.