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6 things to remember after a colon cancer diagnosis

Learn more about the increasing use of robotic colon cancer surgery, what to expect, who is a candidate, and how this procedure benefits patients.
(Photo: Thinkstock)

This content is presented by HonorHealth.

While colon cancer has historically been a difficult-to-battle disease, the growing adoption of robotic surgery makes it easier for surgeons to provide state-of-the-art treatment of the disease.

A recent interview with Andrew Kassir, MD, a colon and rectal surgeon with HonorHealth, uncovers the increasing use of robotic colon cancer surgery, what to expect, who is a candidate, and how this procedure benefits patients. Dr. Kassir is the first doctor to offer robotic colon surgery in Arizona and was among the first surgeons to provide the procedure nationally. Dr. Kassir has worked in the field of colon cancer for 25 years.

What patients need to know

Robotic surgery represents a fantastic leap in the world of colon cancer surgery, but there are some things patients must first understand.

1. Not all patients qualify. While every patient is a potential candidate for robotic surgery, not all tumors allow for robotic removal. The unqualified rate is relatively small (less than 2-3 percent), but keep in mind that some cancer growths require the use of traditional techniques.

2. The method is relatively new. According to Dr. Kassir, it takes extensive training to learn robotic surgery techniques - approximately 30 procedures to become efficient and 50 to become highly skilled. Because of this, few surgeons are trained in this technique.

3. Travel may be required. While robotic surgery is available in larger cities, growth is starting to take off in rural areas. Dr. Kassir reports that the adoption rate for the technique five years ago was roughly 5 percent; it has grown to approximately 25-30 percent today.

What to expect from robotic colon cancer surgery

Once a patient is identified as a viable candidate for robotic colon cancer surgery, the doctor will sit with the patient to explain the diagnosis and what to expect for the surgery.

4. It is the same treatment, but with less pain. While robotic surgery still involves removing a piece of the colon, the pain associated with the procedure is reduced due to the less-invasive approach.

5. Expect fewer inconveniences. Patients who undergo robotic surgery also see faster recovery times, allowing them to be able to eat sooner and to experience less bleeding.

6. Precision is the biggest benefit. Robotic surgery offers a smaller risk of colostomy and makes it easier for doctors to identify and avoid cutting small nerves, which can affect sexual or urinary function after the surgery.

Knowledge is key to any decision regarding a person’s health. Dr. Kassir says, “Education is important, and if patients hear or read about things, they should ask their doctor to see if it is something for them.”

Learn more about cancer care at HonorHealth.