Precision medicine and robotic surgery are revolutionizing treatment of cancer in women: Experts

>>Top national and international surgeons gathered at Amrita Institute of Medical Sciences to attend a workshop on robotic surgery for common cancers found in women

Inauguration of Robocon 2017 at Amrita Hospital Kochi An international workshop on robotic surgery to treat cancers in women such as endometrial cancer and cervical cancer was held at Amrita Institute of Medical Sciences. Renowned surgeons from India and abroad attended the event, including Dr. Walter H Gotlieb, Director of Surgical Oncology, McGill University, Montreal, Canada; Dr. Abraham Peedicayil, Professor, Dept. of Gynaecological Oncology, CMC, Vellore; Dr Amita Maheshwari, Professor Gynaecological Oncology, Tata Memorial Hospital, Mumbai; and Dr Anupama Rajanbabu, Professor, Gynecology Oncology, Amrita Institute of Medical Sciences (Amrita Hospital).

The workshop, called Robocon 2017, was held at the hospital for the second time in the last two years and focused on the most recent advancements in robotic surgery. Minimal access surgery is now the standard of care for most benign gynecological procedures, endometrial cancer and cervical cancer. This has led to great improvements in patient care and satisfaction. Robotic surgery is the latest minimally invasive surgical tool that helps surgeons do complicated surgeries with ease.

Said Dr. Anupama Rajanbabu of Amrita Hospital: “Cancer surgeries have advanced significantly over the last one decade, with tools like robotic-assisted surgery. Robotic platform allows complex cancer surgeries to be done in minimally invasive way through millimeter-size openings in the abdomen, compared to cuts of over 10 cm in conventional surgery. Blood loss and tissue damage is much less, leading to faster recovery. Robotic surgery has reduced average patient stay at the hospital to a single day, compared to a week earlier. Sometimes, patient can go home the same day after surgery. Robotic surgery can treat uterine and cervical cancers as well as select ovarian cancers. This is an important capability to have in a state like Kerala where the incidence of uterine cancer is increasingly rapidly due to urbanization and lifestyle changes. Cervical cancer is the most common cancer among women after breast cancer.”

Added Dr. Walter H Gotlieb of McGill University who is also the Secretary of International Gynecologic Cancer Society: “Medical care, especially cancer treatment, has entered the phase of precision medicine, where personalized treatment is provided rather than ‘one size fits all’. This is revolutionizing healthcare, allowing for better screening tools with molecular analysis instead of, say, the pap smear test. Precision medicine also allows for vaccination against cancers, such as HPV vaccination for cancer of the cervix, helping prevent this very prevalent cancer in India. As drugs become more targeted, so does surgery. The old paradigm of ‘the bigger the scar, the bigger the surgeon’ is giving way to a new approach in surgery where precision becomes crucial, removing what is needed, without damaging the surrounding tissues. Now the motto is ‘the smaller the scar, the bigger the surgeon. Chemotherapy is being replaced by molecular targeted drugs against the cancer cell itself, avoiding most of the toxicity to the body. Surgery too has become much more targeted with robotics, heralding the new era of precision surgery.”

The Amrita Day Care Robotic Surgery Program for female patients of cancers was launched at the event. It allows a patient to return home the very same day after getting surgery for uterine or cervical cancer, and hysterectomy.

Amrita Institute of Medical Sciences began conducting robotic surgeries for women patients of gynecologic cancers three years ago. It is now considered the most experienced facility in India for robotic gynecologic surgery, with its team having performed more than 750 surgeries across different specialties till now using precision tools like the most advanced da Vinci Xi Surgery robot.


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