We have made tremendous strides in the treatment of colon cancer over the past several years. Chief among them is the development of new chemotherapy agents and anti-angiogenesis agents which have shown to significantly improve survival. Equally important, however, have been the changes made in the way we approach colon cancers surgically.
Recently, reputable clinical trials performed in four countries worldwide (including the U.S.) have demonstrated that minimally invasive surgery for colon cancer is as safe as traditional, “open” surgery and leads to faster patient recovery. Minimally invasive surgery means smaller incisions, less postoperative pain, more rapid return of bowel function and shorter hospital stays. More importantly, the results as a cancer operation are equal to the traditional surgery when performed by appropriately trained, experienced surgeons.
Dr. DiNome is a strong proponent of laparoscopic colon surgery. She lectures actively throughout the Los Angeles area regarding this approach, and is the most experienced surgeon at Saint John’s Hospital performing this surgery. She was trained in advanced laparoscopic techniques as a resident at the Brigham and Women’s Hospital, and has brought her clinical expertise to her patients at Saint John’s Hospital.
Laparoscopic colon surgery involves making a 2 inch incision around the belly button and 2-3 other, smaller incisions through which the operation takes place. The abdomen is filled with air, and using a camera and long instruments, as well as a Handport (through which the surgeon’s left hand is inserted to facilitate the operation), the colon surgery is performed. The colon is removed through the incision around the belly button, and the patient is left with a few small bandaids. Because the same surgery is performed on the inside, the same criteria must be met prior to discharge from the hospital. However, because of the minimally invasive approach, and less overall stress to the body, these criteria tend to be met sooner for patients operated on in this manner.