Laparoscopic surgery has a higher death rate among women with cervical cancer, while the disease is also four times more likely to return compared to traditional surgery, according to research.
The study showed that minimally invasive surgery done on 14 out of 319 patients failed to save lives, as opposed to two deaths out of 312 patients who underwent open surgery.
The supposed higher risk from laparoscopic surgery may stem from tools or procedures, which could spread the cancer cells within the patient’s body. Even if patients choose to undergo open surgery, there is a need to use high-quality instruments such as a vaginal speculum.
According to the study, the less invasive surgery requires surgeons to perform small incisions in the lower abdomen. The opening would serve an entry point for a small camera and other surgical instruments.
More patients have opted for laparoscopic surgery due to the promise of faster recovery. In New Zealand, the government still advocates for cancer screening that lets patients avoid surgery as much as possible.
The cervical cancer rate in New Zealand has fallen by 60 per cent since the Ministry of Health introduced national screening programmes in 1990. The current tests require women to be tested every three years, through smear test-based examinations.
There is a plan to shift from the current method to a primary screening programme, which would only require women to be tested every five years just like in Australia. However, University of Otago researchers said in their study that the change could be less effective.
Despite this advice, the government will begin a partial implementation of the change next year with a full transition to happen in 2021.
Cervical cancer patients should consider the involved risks when thinking about minimally invasive surgeries. Likewise, healthcare professionals must be extra careful in choosing the right equipment procedure for their patients.