Monday, March 26, 2012


High-tech treatment available for colorectal cancer

Colorectal cancer is common in eastern Connecticut. Every year we see an increasing number of patients diagnosed with this condition.

Although prevention with timely colonoscopies should always be the goal, when colorectal cancer is diagnosed, surgical resection is the most important step for a cure.

Recently, minimally invasive surgery for the treatment of colorectal cancer has advanced significantly. However, despite the obvious benefits of this approach, it is estimated that only about of 25% of colon resections are done with laparoscopic, minimally invasive techniques in the United States. This is probably due to the complexity associated with these procedures.

Luckily for those living in our region, a much higher percentage of patients receive laparoscopic surgery – in my practice it is approximately 80%. The benefits associated with laparoscopic surgery vs. traditional “open” resections have clearly been established in numerous studies worldwide. They include:

• Shorter recovery times and length of stay in hospitals
• Smaller incisions result in less pain
• Fewer complications such as infections and hernias
• Possibly better outcomes for cancer patients.

Minimally invasive laparoscopic procedures can only be performed well when you have specially trained physicians and operating room staff. It is crucial that these clinicians are very familiar with the equipment, instruments, operating room set up and overall general needs to perform these complex operations.

Some hospitals also have operating rooms specifically designed for minimally invasive surgery. These rooms have high definition video capabilities, mobile monitors, and plenty of space to accommodate any equipment, including surgical robots, required for the surgery.

All of these factors combined result in higher quality care, and, most importantly, better outcomes for our patients and their families.

Dr. Sergio Casillas is a board-certified colon and rectal surgeon at Backus Physician Services, with additional training in minimally invasive colorectal surgery. This column should not replace advice or instruction from your personal physician. If you want to comment on this column or others, visit the Healthy Living blog at or e-mail Dr. Casillas or any of the Healthy Living columnists at

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