Dr. Konstantinidis MD, PhD, FACS - General Surgeon & Director of Bariatric, Laparoscopic & Robotic Surgery of Athens Medical Center.
Colorectal cancer appears to be occurring more and more often nowadays and affecting a large part of the population.
However, early diagnosis and proper treatment focusing on the surgical removal of the tumor, has led to a substantial increase in the survival rate of patients with colorectal cancer as well as an improvement in their quality of life.
Dr. Konstantinidis and his Surgical Team have been applying for years the most innovative robotic surgery techniques to treat even the most demanding cases of colorectal cancer with particularly high success rates.
In order to achieve optimal oncological outcome for each patient individually, Dr. Konstantinidis and his Surgical Team collaborate with leading scientists in other medical specialties, such as oncologists, radiologists, gastroenterologists and nuclear radiotherapists.
What is Colorectal Cancer?
Tumors located within 15 cm of the anus are classified as rectal tumors. All other tumors in the colon are classified as colon tumors.
What are the symptoms of Colorectal Cancer?
Usually, colorectal cancer has no symptoms in the early stages of the disease. When symptoms occur, they mostly include:
- diarrhea or constipation or change in stool consistency
- anal bleeding or blood in the stool
- persistent abdominal discomfort, such as cramps, gas or pain
- weakness or fatigue
- unexplained weight loss
How is Colorectal Cancer diagnosed?
Suspicions for the presence of colorectal cancer arise when the patient develops symptoms associated with the disease. Otherwise, colorectal cancer may be accidentally detected at a regular checkup.
The diagnosis of colorectal cancer includes the following procedures and tests:
- Clinical examination by a doctor
- An endoscope is inserted into the large intestine through the anus and it allows the inside of the intestine to be inspected for abnormal growths, as well as to take a tissue sample (biopsy) for laboratory examination. The most common endoscopic procedures are orthoscopy, sigmoidoscopy and colonoscopy.
- Computed Tomography (CT)
- Double-contrast barium enema. It involves the introduction of barium sulfate and air through the anus to show the outline of the inner wall of the colon and rectum on X-ray film.
- Blood tests
- Screening for cancer markers, such as carcinoembryonic antigen (CEA)
- Histopathological examination of the biopsy obtained through endoscopy, but also of the cancerous tissue or lymph nodes during the surgical removal of the tumor
Histopathological examination contributes decisively to the staging of colorectal cancer.
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How Is Colorectal Cancer Treated?
The treatment of colon cancer is interdisciplinary. There is a wide range of treatments applied to patients with colorectal cancer, such as chemotherapy, immunotherapy, radiation and targeted therapy.
However, at the core of any treatment plan is the surgical removal of the cancerous tumor.
The patient must undergo surgery to remove the malignancy along with a part of the colon as well as all the lymph nodes corresponding to the area.
The removed tissues are sent for histopathological examination to determine the stage of the cancer. After that, the patient to undergoes chemotherapy, radiation, other types of treatment or a combination thereof.
The surgery of choice is colectomy or low anterior resection.
Colectomy can be performed with open surgery, laparoscopically or using a robotic system.
Conventional “open” colectomies are particularly traumatic procedures because the surgeon makes a large incision in the abdomen and pushes through many organs in order to reach the large intestine.
As a result, there is significant surgical injury and patients often face a long and difficult recovery period.
That is why in recent years specialized centers opt for colectomies performed with minimally invasive methods, such as laparoscopy or its evolution, robotic surgery.
Dr. Konstantinidis uses the state-of-the-art da Vinci Xi robotic system featuring an infrared camera. The latter helps the surgeon figure out whether the tissues to be anastomosed have adequate perfusion as well as identify accurately the pelvic lymph nodes. This is the so-called “firefly” technology and it involves the usage of indocyanine green (ICG).
Also, Dr. Konstantinidis uses the da Vinci Xi robotic system to remove tumors of the rectum by performing anastomosis and avoiding permanent final colostomies or protective ileostomies.
The introduction of laparoscopic and robotic surgery for the treatment of patients with colorectal cancer has dramatically improved the medical outcomes, since:
- injury to healthy tissues and adjacent organs is avoided thanks to the digital magnification of the surgical field
- it minimizes the risk of dangerous complications
- making large incisions resulting in less postoperative pain are avoided
- the patient’s mobilization and return to daily life is faster
- the cosmetic outcome is optimal, while the oncological outcome is directly comparable to that of an open surgery
What is Robotic Colectomy?
What are the advantages of Robotic Colectomy?
Are there cases where a colectomy cannot be done robotically?
Can lymph nodes be removed robotically?
Removing the lymph nodes in the areas adjacent to the tumor is crucial for the successful treatment of colorectal cancer.
Recent studies suggest that robotic surgery may offer an advantage in lymph node dissection around the area of the malignancy, offering optimal oncological outcome.
What is the postoperative course of patients?
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Why Dr. Konstantinidis?
Dr. Konstantinidis and his Surgical Team have extensive experience in the treatment of colorectal cancer by performing robotic colectomies since 2006, at Athens Medical Center.
Dr. Konstantinidis collaborates with doctors of all related specialties, such as Anesthesiologists, Pathologists, Gastroenterologists, who are all pioneering scientists and are distinguished for their medical work.