Endometrial cancer surgery is one of the most common procedures performed by gynecologic oncologists at Willamette Valley Cancer Institute. While the procedure is most often a less invasive option than open surgery, patients may still be anxious about what to expect.

Endometrial cancer surgery involves a complete hysterectomy, which includes removal of the uterus, the cervix, both fallopian tubes and ovaries.

“Sometimes, we also take lymph nodes for biopsy to see if the cancer has escaped beyond the uterus,” gynecologic oncologist Dr. Kathleen Yang says. “That will determine what we call staging of the cancer.”

What happens before surgery?  
Prior to surgery, patients meet with their surgeon and other staff members to discuss preparations for the procedure. There will also be a pre-surgery visit at the anesthesia clinic to discuss how anesthesia will be performed.

“On the day of the surgery, the patient checks into the pre-surgery area in the hospital,” says Dr. Yang. “They will see their surgeon one more time, shortly before the procedure, so if there’s any last minute questions they’d like to ask, they can do that at that time.”

How is endometrial cancer performed?
In most cases, endometrial cancer surgery is performed with robotic technology called the da Vinci XI Surgical System, by which a surgeon operates through a few small incisions.

The da Vinci System features a magnified 3-D high-definition camera and tiny wristed instruments that bend and rotate far greater than the human wrist, enabling surgeons to operate with enhanced vision, precision, dexterity and control.

“It’s important for patients to know that the procedure is done by their surgeon, not the robot,” says Dr. Yang.

What will recovery be like?
Robotic surgery has been proven to reduce recovery time for patients. Often, they are able to go home the same day they have the procedure, instead of spending 3-5 days in the hospital, which is the standard following traditional open surgery.

Patients also report less pain after robotic surgery and are able to recover in one to two weeks, instead of six to eight weeks.