Robotic cancer surgery: a minimally invasive alternative

October 23, 2019 | by Fadi Dahdaleh, M.D.

Minimally invasive surgery over the years has improved the patient experience, making recovery quicker and less painful compared to traditional “open” surgery. Using smaller and narrower surgical tools and cameras passed through tubes, minimally invasive surgery allows surgeons to see and work inside the body without the large incisions of open surgery.

For cancer patients who need surgery, minimally invasive techniques may be safely used as studies consistently demonstrate improved short-term outcomes without compromising long-term survival.

Over the past two decades, robotic-assisted minimally invasive surgery has emerged as a major advancement, allowing the surgeon to perform highly complex operations identical to traditional surgery but through small incisions. This has been a leading achievement in the effort to give more patients a positive encounter with the healthcare system.

The most widely used and well-researched robotic surgical platform is the da Vinci Surgical System. With da Vinci, a series of quarter-inch incisions are made to insert a high-definition 3D camera, while the surgeon works at a control panel adjacent to the operating table. The system’s technology converts the surgeon’s hand movements into delicate and precise actions of the instruments. The robotic "wrists" can provide access to hard-to-reach areas of the body with unprecedented accuracy.

Safety and sound cancer surgery are our most important priorities, and, in some cases, surgery may be best performed the traditional way. Nevertheless, robotic-assisted minimally invasive surgery offers a large number of cancer patients an efficient and effective alternative.

Some of the cancers treated using da Vinci robotic surgery include:

  • Gastric cancer
  • Colon cancer
  • Pancreatic cancer
  • Liver cancer
  • Rectal cancer

da Vinci's Xi, the most advanced and up-to-date version of the system, is now available at Edward-Elmhurst Health. This platform takes robotic technology to another level, allowing the surgeon-operated robot access to all quadrants of the abdomen, a feature not available with the older models. Xi also has an instrument arm that passes over the operating table, eliminating the need to move the patient, and a bed that responds to the robot's movements, angling the patient as needed.

Consult with your physician today and find out if robotic-assisted minimally invasive surgery is an option for you.

Learn more about comprehensive cancer care at Edward-Elmhurst Health.

Related Blogs:

How robotic surgery is helping cancer patients

New robotics system an option for certain complex surgeries


When walk-in care is also lifesaving: “She singlehandedly saved my life”

Lauren Day headed to an Edward-Elmhurst Health Immediate Care Center when her primary care physician had no immediate...

Read More


Infant sleep guidelines stress no co-sleeping, empty cribs

American Academy of Pediatrics' safe sleep guidelines for babies state co-sleeping is not safe for infants.

Read More


What to do when food tastes weird during treatment

What do you do if your taste in foods changes during cancer treatment?

Read More