Robotic Surgery Treats Endometrial Cancer

Ruzanna Harutyunyan's picture
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More than 40,000 women are diagnosed with endometrial cancer every year in the United States, and most of those women will undergo some form of surgical treatment of the disease.

It is estimated that 80 percent of those surgeries are performed the traditional open method, and less than 10 percent are performed by laparoscopic surgery in the state of Illinois, but results of a new study evaluating the outcomes of robotic surgery for endometrial cancer may change these statistics and encourage more women to seek less invasive options.

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The study, appearing in the August issue of Obstetrics & Gynecology, evaluated a multiinstitutional database of 405 patients who underwent robotic surgery for endometrial cancer between April 2003 and January 2009. Results of the study were conclusive with previous smaller studies and found short operative times, minimal blood loss, decreased length of hospital stays, a dramatic reduction in surgical complications, and reduced recovery times for those women with endometrial cancer who underwent robotic surgery.

“This is the largest study to date and the first multiinstitutional study to look at the effectiveness of robotic surgery for endometrial cancer, which has the potential to greatly influence surgical treatment of the disease,” says M. Patrick Lowe, MD, lead author of the study and a gynecologic oncologist at Northwestern Memorial Hospital. “Many women are unaware that a robotic alternative to treat endometrial cancer exists, and the advantages of this minimally invasive approach may provide them with their best surgical option.”

The study also evaluated the individual surgical outcomes and learning curve for the five participating surgeons who incorporated robotic technology. The number of robotic surgeries performed by each surgeon in the study ranged from 41 to 119, and results found that patient outcomes for intraoperative complications, length of hospital stay, lymph node yield, and blood loss were similar among the group of surgeons, regardless of experience. Surgeons with extensive laparoscopic experience and those without any laparoscopic experience also had similar outcomes, resulting in a more level playing field among surgeons when performing robotic surgery.

“When compared to published literature on the surgical outcomes of the traditional open or laparoscopic technique to treat endometrial cancer, robotics is at least equivalent if not superior to both modalities in several areas.” adds Dr. Lowe, who is also the director of the robotics and minimally invasive surgical program for the Division of Gynecologic Oncology at Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine. “Based on the promising results of this study, the era of traditional open surgery to primarily treat women with endometrial cancer has come to a close.”

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