Studies Warn Against Minimally Invasive Surgery for Cervical Cancer

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Studies Warn Against Minimally Invasive Surgery for Cervical Cancer

Compared to open surgery for cervical cancer, the less invasive approach was more likely to result in cancer recurrence and death, new studies found.

Two new studies revealed bad news about minimally invasive surgery for cervical cancer, a widely used procedure performed through small slits in the abdomen instead of a big incision.

Compared with the older, open abdominal operation, the minimally invasive approach was more likely to result in recurrence of the cancer and death, researchers found, in the first study that rigorously tested the two methods.

The results, published on Wednesday in The New England Journal of Medicine, had been circulating among cancer specialists in recent months and are already changing medical practices. Minimally invasive surgery for cervical cancer had been regarded as an advance that would help women: It lets patients recover faster, and since it had proved safe for other cancers, it was expected to be safe for cervical cancer, too.

“At M.D. Anderson, we have completely stopped performing minimally invasive surgery for cervical cancer,” said Dr. Pedro T. Ramirez, a leading expert in minimally invasive surgery for gynecologic cancers, and the lead author of one study. “Throughout the gynecologic oncology community, we’re seeing a transition back to the predominance of open surgery.”

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