Gynaecological Cancers in India: The right treatment approach to tackle the burden

Sometimes, limited access to education, employment, and high illiteracy rates contribute to the lack of knowledge on cancers and treatment options.

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Gynaecologic robotic-assisted surgery is one of the latest innovations in minimally invasive surgical techniques. (File)

By Dr Kanika Gupta

With over 800,000 new cases every year, cancer has become a significant public health concern in India, and it is now one of the top ten causes of death in the country. According to data from population-based registries under the National Cancer Registry Program, the cervix, uteri, and breast are the most common cancer sites in women. In India, about 50-60 percent of all malignancies in women are caused by four organs: the cervix uteri, breast, corpus uteri, and ovaries. Additionally, over 70% of women seek diagnostic and treatment services when their condition is advanced, resulting in low survival and high fatality rates.

The current cancer scenario for women in India definitely calls for awareness on prevention, early detection, diagnosis , better facilities, , treatment options and follow-up at a given time.

Challenges in preventive care, diagnosis, and treatment approach.

Firstly, about 70% of India’s population lives in poor health and living conditions in rural areas. Early marriage, early childbearing, multiparity, poor genital cleanliness, and persistent sexually transmitted disease infection are all risk factors for cancer cervix in rural women. Secondly, something as simple as a liquid PAP and HPV, a routine screening procedure for cervical cancer recommended once every five years for women aged 30 to 65, lacks presence in programmes, and the vast majority of women in need are not aware of the need for screening and tests that aid it. HPV-related cancers can be eliminated with vaccination, so ensuring that medical providers understand HPV vaccination recommendations is paramount.

Sometimes, limited access to education, employment, and high illiteracy rates contribute to the lack of knowledge on cancers and treatment options. In the urban population, where education and employment are dominant, aspects such as poor lifestyle and ignorance towards one’s health would contribute to limited knowledge of treatment options. For example, as in the case of robotic-assisted surgery, given that it is minimally invasive and more precise, it often offers several patients added benefits compared to traditional methods.

Robotic-Assisted Surgery in Gynaecology

The most common procedure for treating gynaecological cancers is still hysterectomy. Despite significant advances in general gynaecology, reproductive gynaecology, and reconstructive gynaecology, the focus remains on gynaecologic oncology, and the role of robotic surgeries in gynaecology is expanding.

Gynaecologic robotic-assisted surgery is one of the latest innovations in minimally invasive surgical techniques. In my experience, having conducted multiple surgeries using the da Vinci surgical system, the advantages of flexibility that the technology provides in working in small spaces with high accuracy is unparalleled, resulting in better patient outcomes. It is also associated with less pain, less blood loss, and shorter hospital stay, allowing gynaecological surgeons to treat several conditions affecting women’s reproductive organs.

Surgeons perform traditional, open surgery by making a single long incision to access the area for treatment. In the case of laparoscopic surgeries, surgeons are required to hold and manipulate a scope and instruments through a few small incisions. Robotic-assisted surgery is similar to laparoscopy. However, robotic surgery allows surgeons to operate in small spaces with greater freedom in motion, providing better visualisation and understanding of the anatomy due to the 3D view and 10 times magnification. The introduction of robotic-assisted surgery in gynaecological surgery, specifically the da Vinci Surgical System, is one of the most significant breakthroughs in how surgeries will be performed in the future.

Endometrial malignancies are increasingly being staged surgically using minimal access surgery, such as laparoscopic and robotically. In a prospective randomised study comparing robotic-assisted hysterectomy and regional lymphadenectomy with traditional laparotomy for endometrial cancer staging, the robotic-assisted group had much less estimated blood loss and perioperative problems than the open technique. The surgeon, situated at the surgeon console, executes even the most delicate and difficult surgeries with greater precision through small incisions. The robotic system is not programmed and does not move independently, the surgeon retaining complete control during the procedure.

Experts’ experience ranging from open/lab to robotic surgeries indicates that the use of robotic technology has increased dramatically over the last ten years, with positive financial and therapeutic benefits allowing patients to return to what is most important to them.

India is on its way up the healthcare development ladder, and it’s now more important than ever to make this new surgically revolutionary technology available to everyone—surgeons and patients alike. Surgeons must receive robotic surgical training to stay up with this change and ensure that man and machine are in sync and moving forward together. It is up to India’s undeniably talented surgeons to embrace this technology in order to provide society with better and more holistic medical care.

(The author is the Senior Director, Robotic Surgery, MAX super speciality hospital, Vaishali. The article is for informational purposes only. Please consult medical experts and health professionals before starting any therapy, medication and/or remedy. Views expressed are personal and do not reflect the official position or policy of FinancialExpress.com.

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