Sponsored by: Main Line Health System
There was a time, not so long ago, when patients felt that a colorectal cancer diagnosis meant a choice between death, and life with a colostomy bag. That was then.
“Now we can operate with just a small incision and, in some circumstances, no incision at all,” said Dr. John H Marks, a nationally and internationally recognized colorectal surgeon.
Marks and his associates are pioneers in innovative approaches to treating colorectal cancer, inflammatory diseases of the colon and rectum, and advanced surgical techniques and treatments.
These new surgical advancements are reducing colorectal cancer mortality and leading to better outcomes with less recovery time, he said.
One procedure is called Transanal Abdominal Transanal Proctosigmoidectomy with Descending Coloanal Anastomosis (TATA). This is an example of laparoscopic surgery, which is being used with many diseases of the intestinal tract, including treating rectal cancers.
For these surgeries, the surgeon inserts a laparoscope (a straw-size instrument that has a tiny video camera attached) through a small, typically ½-inch, incision in the abdomen, or directly into a natural orifice. Other small incisions may be made for the surgeon to insert additional laparoscopic instruments to use to perform the surgery.
By avoiding major incisions through the skin, muscle, and nerves of the abdomen, patients recover more quickly, have less pain, and have shorter hospital stays. They experience less postoperative pain and have far less scarring, Marks said.
“The whole operative experience is different now. If the cancer is caught early, 90 percent of patients have an excellent cure rate,” he said.
Marks is Chief of Colorectal Surgery for Lankenau Medical Center, part of the Main Line Health System near Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.