Local News

New Surgical Technique Speeds Recovery For Endometrial Cancer Patients

Posted October 14, 2002

— Endometrial cancer is one of the most common forms of cancer in women. It begins in the lining of the uterus and surgery usually offers the best chance for survival.

Doctors at UNC Hospitals have found a new way to make the surgical procedure less painful, helping patients get back on their feet faster.

Jeanne Riddel enjoys working in her garden, but the retired UNC professor had to put her hobby on hold after she was diagnosed with endometrial cancer. Riddel's cancer was caught early enough to be treated.

"About three-fourths of women are diagnosed in the early stages," said Dr. Paola Gehrig, a gynecologist/oncologist at UNC Hospitals.

Surgery to remove the uterus and test the lymph nodes is the most common treatment for

endometrial cancer


"This typically requires a very long incision that extends a great distance on the abdomen," said Dr. John Boggess of UNC Hospitals.

The surgery also means a lengthy recovery time and a greater risk of complications, he said.

Surgeons at UNC are now using a new technique for endometrial cancer surgery called video laproscopy.

"Which is a technique where we put a small camera through the belly button. We actually look up at a TV monitor and use tiny incisions to perform the exact same procedure we would normally do through a very long incision," Boggess said.

Boggess has performed the procedure on 25 women, and said so far, the results are identical to traditional surgery. Instead of a four-day hospital stay, most patients go home within 24 hours and do not require intravenous pain medication.

"We've seen women go back to work within a week after surgery," Boggess said.

UNC is the only hospital in North Carolina currently offering the procedure. Surgeons there expect it to become more popular.

"I think as skill levels and comfort levels increase, it's something we're going to do more of," Gehrig said.

Riddell had the surgery six weeks ago and is now undergoing radiation just to make sure the cancer is gone.

"This is just a precaution to give me a better chance of the tumor not recurring," she said.

Unexplained bleeding is usually the first sign of endometrial cancer. Doctors at UNC are also trying to treat other gynecologic cancers through laproscopic surgery.


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