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Is minimally-invasive surgery for cervical cancer safe and effective?

Minimally invasive surgery is often recommended by surgeons, and is a popular treatment for cervical cancer for many reasons. The incisions are small. The surgery recovery time is shorter. And there is a lower risk of infection and bleeding.

But a recent study shows a difference in survival and recurrence among women who underwent minimally invasive hysterectomy surgery, as opposed to those who underwent a traditional hysterectomy through an open abdominal incision.

Doctors at MD Anderson Cancer Center were surprised to find that women who underwent minimally invasive surgery were four times more likely to have a recurrence and potentially die within four to five years, than those who underwent an open-incision hysterectomy.

The results were so telling, that doctors at MD Anderson quickly shifted to recommending open-incision surgery.

Why is the minimally invasive hysterectomy less effective – and more dangerous – for women?

While the exact cause is unknown, doctors think that the CO2 gas used in the surgery could promote the growth of cancer. Also, as the surgery moves tissues around, cancer cells could contaminate new tissues.

Women who are diagnosed with cervical cancer should research and discuss all treatment options with their doctors. Every case is different, and what works for one patient may not work for another.