Minimally Invasive Surgical Techniques
For Gastrointestinal Cancers
An option for many cancer patients, minimally
invasive surgery is becoming one of the fastest
growing preferred treatment methods in the
country. Is it right for you?
“Whether you have open or closed surgery,
the oncologic outcome should be the same,” explained
Wernsing, MD, FACS. Dr. Wernsing performs
about 400 minimally invasive operations a year
and has been working with patients at the Joan
Karnell Cancer Center since 2000. “The
goal of minimally invasive cancer surgery is
to minimize the negative impact to the patient's
quality of life while performing an appropriate
Myths and Misconceptions
Dr. Wernsing says most patients want to know
how he can see while performing surgery. “The
reality is, you can see far better in a laparoscopic
case than a traditional, open surgery,” he
explained. Patients shouldn't worry about
what can and can't be done laparoscopiclly, “Just
about everything that has been done (in traditional
surgery) can and has already been done with
minimally invasive surgery,” said Wernsing.
In fact, Dr. Wernsing says, in certain cases,
a minimally invasive procedure may be better
than traditional surgery. “Colon cancer
cases seem to have seen the biggest change,” says
Wernsing, “With colon cancer, this procedure
has been more widely accepted with better results.”
Patients who decide to take advantage of this
procedure can expect shorter hospital stays,
less blood loss, faster healing and less scarring.
Aside from a few exceptions, anybody may be a
candidate for minimally invasive surgery. “I've
seen some of the best recoveries in older patients.
I completed a laparoscopic-assisted procedure
for rectal cancer on a 93-year-old women who
was back to a normal active schedule within two
Patients who decide to take
advantage of this procedure can
expect shorter hospital stays,
less blood loss, faster healing
and less scarring.
Is Minimally Invasive Surgery Right for You?
Knowing as much as you can about minimally invasive
surgeries before you see your doctor will go
a long way in deciding what procedure is right
for you. Dr. Wernsing notes: “The more
you know about what your surgeon does, the
more of a chance you'll get what you
want.” Learn about your surgeon's
experience and ask questions so you know what
to expect. Talk about your options and tell
your physician what you want.