Treatments for mesothelioma have become more abundant and more advanced in the last ten years. While there is still no cure, patients are living longer and studies into new treatments have provided encouraging results. One controversial procedure may be more of a viable option due to the utilization of modern technology. According to a renowned thoracic surgeon, robotic surgery may change the future of mesothelioma treatment.
Radiation and chemotherapy are two of the most common nonsurgical treatments for mesothelioma. Radiation therapy involves the use of high-dose radiation to reduce or eradicate malignant tumors, whereas chemotherapy may be used to eliminate live cancer cells and slow the growth of malignant tumors. Both of these nonsurgical treatments are often used in combination with surgical procedures to ensure the best possible outcome for patients.
Surgical treatments include pleurectomy and decortication, procedures usually performed in the early stages of mesothelioma to remove tumors from the lungs. Another surgical procedure is extra pleural pneumonectomy. This aggressive procedure aims to extract the mesothelioma by removing the affected organs or parts of the body, such as the lung. EPP is controversial due to the associated risks such as blood loss, infection and even death.
Many of the risks associated with EPP may be attributed to human error and limitations. Those risks are significantly decreased when the surgery is performed with the help of robotics. The robotic EPP procedure involves a surgeon sitting at a special console and remotely moving robotic arms attached to surgical instruments. The use of a tiny camera allows the surgeon to have a magnified 360-degree view of the operative field and to determine whether it is wise to continue with the procedure before completely opening the chest.
A renowned thoracic surgeon – the first to perform a successful robotic EPP – touts the many benefits of robotic surgery. Due to the improved preservation of the chest lining as it is pulled out, the likelihood of eliminating all the mesothelioma is greater, the risk of blood loss, infection and death are lowered and stress on the remaining lung is reduced, allowing patients to recover faster. The robotic system is being increasingly implemented by surgeons with positive outcomes. For those suffering from pleural mesothelioma, robotic EPP surgery may be a worthwhile option.