Keyhole Incisions often the Key to Successful Cancer Surgery
Is minimally invasive surgery really as effective as open surgery in removing
cancerous tumors? It’s the unspoken question that Chattanooga urologist Dr. Amar
Singh knows to address with his cancer patients.
“That’s one of the biggest misconceptions I encounter,” says Dr. Singh. “The
whole focus of minimally invasive surgery is to have the same outcome as with
traditional surgery,” he tells his patients. “People shouldn’t think that
because they’re getting minimally invasive surgery, it’s a less effective
treatment,” stresses the local specialist.
In addition to achieving a good cancer operation, the advantages of
laparoscopic or robotics-assisted surgery often outweigh traditional surgery for
a host of other reasons. Keyhole-sized incisions mean less pain,
discomfort and scarring, shorter hospital stays, a speedier recovery, and faster
return to normal activities. Blood loss is also significantly less.
“When you open someone (with traditional surgery) the transfusion rate can be as
high as 20% - and people don’t need to lose blood,” says the urologist.
Another distinct benefit of minimally invasive surgery, particularly for
kidney cancer, is the ability to save the organ. Urologists can laparoscopically
remove many tumors and be able to leave the kidney behind, according to Dr.
Singh. “The old way of thinking was that if you found a kidney mass, the kidney
goes in the bucket; now we take the tumors away and spare the kidney – helping
prevent future health problems, including the need for hemodialysis,” he said.
Urological cancers make up 50% of all cancers, such as prostate, kidney,
bladder, ureter, testicular and adrenal – all of which can be successfully
treated laparoscopically, according to the local urologist.
“Everyone is a candidate for minimally invasive surgery unless proven
otherwise,” maintains Dr. Singh. “If we have to go to traditional surgery during
a case, we can still do it,” he points out. Obesity isn’t even the roadblock it
once was. “I did successful laparoscopic kidney surgery on a man who weighed 580
pounds,” reports Dr. Singh, adding that “it’s now being done on those who’ve had
prior abdominal surgery.”
Men with prostate cancer are excellent candidates for laparoscopic surgery,
says the local urologist. “I shoot for the trifecta,” Dr. Singh tells his
patients. “We have three goals – good cancer control, continence and potency –
and I can help achieve these goals with robotics-assisted laparoscopic
The mere fact that prostate surgery has been recommended indicates a strong
likelihood the cancer was caught early.
“If it can be detected early, I can give my patients the big “C” as in
“Cure,” says Dr. Singh, noting there’s “not too many areas of cancer treatment”
where one can do that. “Our patients are very grateful and that’s what makes
what I do worthwhile.”
Dr. Singh, with Academic Urologists at Erlanger, specializes in minimally
invasive renal surgeries, as well as robotic-assisted laparoscopic prostatectomy
and cystoprostatectomy. His office is located at 979 E. Third St., Suite A-450,
Chattanooga, Tenn. The office number is 778-5910.