(07/25/13) - A robotic procedure may offer rare hope to people diagnosed with one
of the deadliest cancers. Treatment for pancreatic cancer is very tricky and
there are no guarantees. But, this new surgical technique is proving less
painful, with faster recover, and better chances of survival.
Bob Dies never skips the chance to dance with his wife. Earlier this year, Bob was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and thought his dancing days might be over, "it's the worst type of cancer."
Bob underwent a complex surgery called the Robotic Whipple procedure. His gallbladder and large portions of his stomach, pancreas, and small intestine were removed and the remaining pancreas and digestive organs were rebuilt and reconnected.
"So, that's why the operation is so complicated," says Dr. Mokenge Malafa, a surgical oncologist at Moffitt Cancer Center.
That is also why Malafa and his colleagues use a robot to get the job done, "this technology actually allows us to sometimes see better, to sew better, and to cut better with less trauma to the tissue."
Surgeons make several small incisions instead of one big one.
"There were four spots essentially where the arms of the robot went into my body," Bob says.
The procedure is said to lead to less pain, shorter hospital stays, faster recoveries and a low infection rate.
Bob says he was walking the day after surgery and is optimistic about a full recovery.
There are potential side-effects with this surgery- as with any other- including infection, bleeding, and trouble with the stomach emptying itself after meals. Those who are obese and have had abdominal surgery before are not candidates for this procedure.
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