The Condition: Early Stage Gynecologic Cancer
The Treatment: Robotic-assisted laparoscopic hysterectomy
A wide variety of gynecologic cancers can affect a woman’s reproductive system, which consists of the uterus, vagina, ovaries and fallopian tubes. The most common types of gynecologic cancers are cervical, endometrial (uterine) and ovarian cancer. The treatment options are dependent on the specific type of cancer, its stage (how advanced it is), and the patient’s overall medical condition. In general, patients with early stage cancer (cancer limited to the organ where it started) have the most treatment options and the highest likelihood of cure. Patients with early stage cancer are commonly cured by surgery alone.
Women with early stage cancer of the uterus and/or cervix are often treated with a hysterectomy – the surgical removal of the uterus. During such an operation, the surgeon may also remove the ovaries, fallopian tubes and/or select lymph nodes. Hysterectomy is the second-most common surgical procedure for women in the United States, and an estimated one third of all U.S. women will have a hysterectomy by age 60.
If your doctor recommends hysterectomy, you may be a candidate for a robotic-assisted laparoscopic hysterectomy, a highly effective, minimally invasive option for a range of uterine conditions. At UC Davis, we have gynecologic oncologists (surgeons who specialize in the treatment of gynecological cancers) who are skilled in performing hysterectomies using the da Vinci™ Surgical System. This robotic system enables surgeons to operate with remarkable precision and control — using only a few small incisions.
For many patients, a minimally invasive hysterectomy using the robotic system can offer numerous potential benefits over traditional approaches to vaginal or open abdominal hysterectomy — particularly when performing more challenging procedures like a radical hysterectomy for gynecologic cancer.
Benefits to patients
Potential benefits include:
- Less pain
- Less blood loss
- Fewer complications
- Less scarring
- A shorter hospital stay
- A faster return to normal daily activities
Additionally, studies suggest that the robotic-assisted system provides surgeons with a superior tool that allows for the precise removal of lymph nodes during cancer operations, when compared to traditional open or minimally invasive approaches. The robotic system also allows your surgeon better visualization of the anatomy, which is especially critical when working around delicate and confined structures like the bladder, blood vessels and other internal organs. This allows robotically trained surgeons to perform radical cancer surgeries and help overcome challenges associated with adhesions from previous operations.
As with any surgery, the benefits cannot be guaranteed. Successful outcomes depend on both the patient and the procedure. While a robotic-assisted radical hysterectomy and related procedures are considered safe and effective, the technique may not be appropriate for every individual. You should always discuss all the treatment options with your physician to understand the risks and benefits.