What to Know About Robotic Surgery for Gynecologic Cancers

January 31, 2018 | by Kevin Chesley

Mehdi Kebria - Profile Photo Mehdi M. Kebria, M.D.

One of the ways that City of Hope is innovating in the treatment of gynecologic cancers is through robotic surgery. According to Mehdi M. Kebria, M.D., an assistant clinical professor in the Department of Surgery in the Division of Gynecologic Oncology, use of robotics in the treatment and management of the disease is providing a lot of good news for patients.

Kebria is also a gynecologic oncologist, and knows breakthroughs are needed for the more than 107,000 women diagnosed with gynecologic cancers each year in the United States alone.

What Are Gynecologic Cancers?

There are several kinds of cancers that are included under the umbrella of gynecologic cancers. “The most common cancer that we deal with are uterine cancers, followed by ovarian cancers, then cervical, vulvar and vaginal cancers — as well as gestational trophoblastic disease,” Kebria says.

Advancements Using Robotics

Treatments for these diseases are usually minimally invasive. Much of this is thanks to the use of robotic surgery. “Currently, we do these procedures — which were previously done in an open or invasive fashion — using smaller incisions and more sophisticated instruments.”

Each incision is generally around 8 millimeters in size, and Kebria is very satisfied with the results, “Most studies show that you can perform these surgeries in a minimally invasive fashion with minimal tissue damage to the patient and faster recovery, too. They experience less pain with less risk of complications and end up recovering faster.”

Robotic surgery also brings an added advantage with it, that of a dual camera. “It gives us clearer images — high-definition images and a 3-D view of the surgical field. It gives us articulating instruments, depth perception and improved visualization. It allows us to perform complex procedures in a minimally invasive fashion,” Kebria adds.

Not for Every Patient

Unfortunately, these robotic approaches are not right for everyone. “There are some groups that are not candidates — those with advanced cancer,” Kebria says. Advanced ovarian cancer, for instance, requires an open procedure — minimally invasive surgery would not be able to remove all of the disease, so it is instead reserved for diseases such as endometrial cancer, cervical cancer and early-stage ovarian cancer.

Not for Every Doctor, Either

Should a patient be eligible, robotic surgery shouldn’t be performed by just anyone, either. Choosing the best physician for the job is key. “Like many procedures, you want to be operated on by a surgeon that has good experience in this field. They have to have performed a number of surgeries in a minimally invasive and robotic fashion,” Kebria says.

Kebria has seen problems arise due to poor choice of doctor. “Unfortunately, there are still a lot of women who are diagnosed with gynecologic cancer who are seen by physicians who are not specialized in gynecologic oncology. Basically, I advise women to seek care from a gynecologic oncologist.”

Even More Hope in the Future

There are many new developments in the arena of robotic surgery, and City of Hope is a part of it. “The majority of City of Hope’s procedures for endometrial cancer are currently done in the robotic manner,” Kebria says. “We’ve been doing these robotic procedures for years. We adopted this technology very early on. There are a lot of new developments, including a single-site robotic surgery operation. We perform the surgery through a single incision at the level of the umbilicus that gives a better cosmetic result. There are a lot of new developments and studies going on in this area.”

 
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If you are looking for a second opinion about your gynecologic cancer diagnosis or consultation about your treatment, request an appointment online or contact us at 800-826-4673. Please visit Making Your First Appointment for more information.

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