A few questions on cancer treatment that haunt us…..
Why does diagnosis of cancer scare people?
A diagnosis of cancer is scary as it is considered to be a deadly disease. But, not any more. Medical science has improved in providing an early diagnosis of cancer and effective treatment are ready. Not only that, the treatment like surgery and radiation therapy also have improved a lot over the past few years effectively reducing the side effects and complications. Today cancer can be cured if diagnosed early.
Why do people reach late for treatment?
Cancer is a painless disease in the beginning. That precisely the reason why it gets ignored and grows unabated. So, it is important to include cancer screening in your yearly health check-up and also to get yourself examined by a doctor when any new symptom persists beyond fortnight.
Please read my booklet on cancer prevention for more details.
Is there any alternatives to open surgery for cancer?
Open surgery used to be the only approach available for cancer till some time back. Open surgery is difficult and painful for the patient, and also has a prolonged recovery time. The laparoscopic and robotic surgery have made a great difference in the treatment of these patients, making it much easier and comfortable. Even today in spite of so many advances, more than 80% of cancer surgeries are performed by open method because of lack of skill and technology. This needs to change.
Is the robotic and laparoscopic technology mature enough to give the same results as open surgery?
Technology has improved a lot in the past few years and it is evolving further every day. Today’s laparoscopic and robotic equipments provide high definition 3D vision with magnification. Research has proven that the cure rate for cancers is same or better whether we perform the surgery by open method or laparoscopic and robotic. For some cancers like colorectal cancers, the results seems to be better when the surgery is performed by laparoscopic or robotic.
Some people think that cancer can not be completely removed by laparoscopy or robotic surgery. Is it true?
It is a false propaganda. Some people think that we are compromising on surgery when it is performed laparoscopically or robotically. The principles of cancer treatment remain the same whether it is open, robotic or laparoscopic surgery. On the contrary to this belief, when laparoscoic or robotic surgery is performed by trained surgeons, the surgery is performed more precisely and meticulously than open surgery. The cancer cure results are same or better than open surgery. The scientific evidence has proven this.
When do you choose between laparoscopic and robotic cancer surgery?
It will take long time for the technology and techniques to reach every place in the world. However, because of less difficulties and complications (morbidity) associated with laparoscopic and robotic surgery, many educated patients are opting for it today. The younger cancer surgeons are training in these newer techniques. It is only matter of time before it reaches every where.
What are the advantages of laparoscopic and robotic surgery?
No one wants pain. But, surgery is painful. However, what laparoscopic and robotic surgery have managed is to reduce the pain of surgery. In addition due to the precise nature of surgery, we hardly lose any blood during surgery. These in turn result in quick recovery, reduced infection as immunity does not fall and return to work in much less time than open surgery. Laparoscopy and robotic surgery also have much less long term wound related problems.
Where does robotic surgery score over laparoscopic surgery?
Though we have been performing all the cancer surgeries laparoscopically, there are times when even expert laparoscopic onco-surgeons find it difficult to perform some surgeries. The deep area within pelvis, chest and throat are better accessed using robotic instruments as they have human wrist like movement and provide 3D vision for that surgeon. Robot eases the surgeons’ effort in performing these surgeries, intern transferring the benefit to the patient. There are some surgeries that are better performed robotically than any other way.