Together We Can -- Newsletter of the Joan Karnell Cancer Center

Spring 2006

Obtaining the Best Possible Treatment
Message From the Administrator
Minimally Invasive Surgical Techniques
Pet Therapy
Favorite Recipes
JKCC Receives Komen Grant
Honors, Awards & Publications
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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 David 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 cancer operation.”

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 weeks.”

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.


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