Robotic Surgery for Cancer: Myths vs Facts

05 May, 2022

Robot-assisted surgery is found to be highly effective in the management of a broad spectrum of early-stage cancers. It confers numerous advantages, namely decreased pain, reduced blood loss, fewer treatment complications and faster recovery. It also helps in avoiding lengthy hospitalisations for patients and promoting enhanced quality of life.

Yet, some patients get intimidated by the idea of undergoing robotic surgery for cancer, owing to a few common myths. In this article, we will be debunking some of the common myths associated with robotic surgery.

Myth 1: The surgery is performed by a robot, and the surgeon is hands-off.

Fact: Robotic surgery is a modern and advanced form of minimally-invasive surgery where the ‘artificial intelligence’ mode is used. The robotic arms, which are inserted into the patient’s abdomen, are guided to perform necessary surgical steps by the movements done by the hands of the surgeon sitting at the console. In other words, the surgeon is doing the surgery by directing the robotic arms.

Myth 2: The robotic surgery set-up could malfunction during the procedure and could be dangerous for the patient.

Fact: The da Vinci XI robotic surgery system is built to function with such precision that it is not supposed to malfunction. But in the hypothetical event of that happening, everything comes to a standstill, and there will be no damage caused to the patient.

Myth 3: Robotic surgery is an expensive procedure with no real results.

Fact: Robotic surgery is expensive. But if we compare the expense of robotic surgery with that of laparoscopy or open surgery, the difference is not much. The recovery is much faster in the case of robotic surgery, and therefore, the hospitalisation and medicine costs go down significantly. Most importantly, in most cases, the patients can return to work within 72 hours.

Myth 4: Robotic surgery limits access to internal organs and therefore results in poor clearance of cancer.

Fact: I would say it is exactly the opposite. Because of the 3D high definition view & smaller size of the instruments as well as accurate movements of the joints of the robotic arms, certain surgeries for cancer have now become more precise and safer.

Myth 5: Robotic surgery can be performed by any surgeon.

Fact: A surgeon can perform robotic surgeries after undergoing appropriate certified training. Any surgeon with an access to a robot must not, however, conduct cancer surgeries without adequate expertise in the field of oncology.

Bottom Note: 

Those were some of the most common robotic surgery-related misconceptions that patients come to us with. It is of paramount importance for patients to understand that robotic surgeries are safe and support excellent clinical outcomes. That said, it is important to note that robotic surgery is not for everyone. However, patients can always talk to their doctor to understand how robotic surgery works for their condition and enquire if they are the right candidate for this procedure.

For any enquiries related to robotic surgery, patients may get in touch with HCG, where we have a team of the best cancer surgeons in Ahmedabad who have completed their extensive training in robotic surgery and can support the management of simpler to complex cancer cases.

This article is contributed by Dr. Kalpana Kothari, Chief of Gynaec Oncology, Senior Consultant Robotic Surgery & HIPEC, HCG Cancer Centre, Ahmedabad

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