Because robotic surgery for ovarian cancer is considered “minimally invasive” surgery, there is often not much a woman has to do to prepare for it. Most women are able to go home the day after surgery, according to Dr. Heidi Gray, a gynecologic oncologist at Seattle Cancer Care Alliance.
“There’s not a lot of preparation before surgery,” Dr. Gray told SurvivorNet. “There is the typical – no eating after midnight, and things like that. But most of the time patients are just overnight in the hospital and are able to go home the next day.”
For most woman with ovarian cancer, surgery is a part of the treatment plan. In fact, it’s often step one in the treatment plan. Deciding what type of surgery to get is also an important part of the process. Not all women will be eligible to get robotic-assisted surgery, but for those who are, there are clear benefits to going this route.
One of the biggest benefits to robotic-assisted surgery for ovarian cancer is the shorter recovery time. Recovery is typically a bit easier with robotic surgery than it is with others types of procedures — and a lot of that has to do with the types of incisions being made during the surgery.
“The benefit from minimally invasive surgery, because the incisions are small, pain is less, infection is less, things like that,” Dr. Gray said.
Patients are typically up and moving around within a few hours of surgery, Dr. Gray added, and can do the bulk of their recovery at home.
Several ovarian cancer surgeries can be performed with robotic-assistance, but the most common surgery done using this procedure is a hysterectomy, where a woman’s uterus is removed.
“The most common procedure that we do robotically would be a hysterectomy, removal of the tubes and ovaries, you can also do more complicated omentectomy… removing of the omentum [a fatty apron surrounding abdominal organs],” Dr. Gray said.
While robotic surgery certainly has its benefits for women who are able to get it, these procedures also tend to be more expensive than open surgery.
“The least expensive in terms of just hospital costs, things like that, is open surgery,” Dr. Gray said. “But that’s because it’s not using a lot of the equipment [that would be needed for robotic surgery]. But you have to factor in other things that cost the patient — like recovery time, how much time you’re in the hospital, risk of infection.”
So even though the actual procedure is cheaper when women get open surgery over robotic surgery — women who get open surgery tend to need more recovery time in the hospital, which costs money as well. The overall costs for both types of surgery end up being very similar, Dr. Gray said.
Your doctor can advise you as to which surgical option would be best for your unique case.
For many women with ovarian cancer, surgery will be step one in the treatment process. Here, experts from the Seattle area explain the basics of what to expect with surgery.
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