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Through cutting edge research and treatment innovations, St. Joseph Mercy Oakland is at the forefront of efforts to combat Cancer in Michigan and provide the best in Michigan oncology care. Our patients are treated with the utmost care and respect to help them overcome cancer and other oncology related diseases.

Farouk Tootla, MD
St. Joseph Mercy Oakland

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THE FACTS ABOUT Da Vinci Colorectal Cancer Surgery May Be Best Treatment


Colorectal cancer, or cancer of the rectum or colon, is the third most common form of cancer and the second leading cause of cancerrelated deaths for men and women combined in the United States. An estimated 147,000 people will be diagnosed with colorectal cancer this year alone, and approximately 50,000 lives will be lost.

Podcast Posted: 04/19/2010

Both men and women are at risk of developing colorectal cancer. The disease is most common among people age 50 and over and risks increase with age. A family history of colorectal cancer or colorectal polyps increases the risk of developing colorectal cancer, as do such other risk factors as a history of bowel disease, a diet high in fat, lack of exercise, being overweight, smoking, heavy use of alcohol, ethnic background (some studies have found that Jews of Eastern European descent have the highest colorectal cancer risk) and race (African Americans have the highest colorectal cancer incidence and mortality rates of all racial groups in the United States).

In its earliest stages, colorectal cancer often has no symptoms. People should contact a doctor if any of the following occur: change in bowel habits; blood in the stool; diarrhea; constipation or feeling that the bowel does not empty completely; stools that are narrower than usual; general abdominal discomfort; unexplained weight loss; constant tiredness or anemia, or vomiting.

When colorectal cancer is diagnosed, surgery is generally the main treatment. Traditionally a large open abdominal incision, which may extend from the pubic bone to the sternum, has been used to remove the cancer and then reconnect the digestive track and preserve normal bowel function. Open colorectal cancer surgery can be quite painful for the patient. It also involves an extended hospital stay and increased risk of infection.

“Today, the majority of the patients may be eligible for minimally invasive colorectal surgery using the da Vinci Surgical System,” says Farouk Tootla, MD, a colon and rectal surgeon at St. Joseph Mercy Oakland(SJMO). Dr. Tootla is one of the first surgeons in Michigan to perform colorectal surgery using da Vinci robotic-assisted surgery and he has performed more robotic colectomies than any other surgeon in the state, according to da Vinci manufacturer Intuitive.

da Vinci robotic-assisted surgery is performed through a few tiny openings, rather than a large open incision. It uses state-of-the-art technology to enable surgeons to perform a more precise operation. “The da Vinci Surgical System provides surgeons with enhanced capabilities, including high-definition 3D vision and a magnified view,” Dr. Toota says. The surgeon is in control of the da Vinci system, which translates the surgeon’s hand movements into smaller, more precise movements using tiny instruments.

”Use of the da Vinci means less chance of complication or injury of other structures and better vessel identification for cancer surgeries,” stresses Dr. Tootla. “It also means less depression of the immune system because there is no large abdominal incision. Many rectal cases have also shown better clinical outcomes for cancer control when the da Vinci is used.”

Other advantages of using the da Vinci Surgical System include:

  • Faster return to bowel function (Dr. Tootla says he his patients’ bowel function returns two days post-op)
  • Faster return to normal diet
  • Less pain and blood loss than traditional surgery
  • Less risk of wound infections and less complications
  • Shorter hospital stay
  • Quicker return to normal activities

Please contact the SJMO referral line at (800) 372-6094 to find an SJMO physician near you.



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