Cervical cancer treatment: Minimally invasive radical hysterectomy vs. abdominal hysterectomy

Abdominal radical hysterectomies (also called “open” hysterectomies) typically are thought of as more difficult for patients to recover from than a minimally invasive radical hysterectomy. But new research shows they’re safer for early-stage cervical cancer patients. MD Anderson gynecologic oncologists led two studies looking at the two techniques: abdominal radical hysterectomy: the more traditional method of surgery in which surgeons remove the uterus and other surrounding structures,  through an incision in the patient’s lower abdomen minimally invasive radical hysterectomy: when surgeons conduct a surgery using very small incisions and remove the uterus and surrounding parts They found that cervical cancer patients who had minimally invasive radical hysterectomies were four times more likely to experience recurrence than those who had open surgery. They also had lower survival rates. As a result of the studies' findings, MD Anderson gynecologic oncologists made the decision to no longer perform minimally invasive radical hysterectomies on cervical cancer patients. Our physicians recommend that these patients undergo open abdominal radical hysterectomies instead.   We spoke with Pedro Ramirez, M.D., a gynecologic oncologist and surgeon who led one of the studies, about what else patients should know about surgery for cervical cancer treatment. Here’s what he had to say.  What’s the difference between a radical hysterectomy and a simple hysterectomy? In a simple hysterectomy, the uterus is removed. In a radical hysterectomy, the uterus and some surrounding parts around the cervix are removed.  The open radical hysterectomy is performed by removing the uterus through an incision (similar to the one made in a C-section) in the lower abdomen. Radical hysterectomies typically are used in cancer treatment to...