Insufficient Evidence that Surgical Robots are Effective in Treating CancerApril 17, 2019
High-tech surgical robots are one of the latest advances in medicine that surgeons are using to treat patients with certain types of cancer, including breast and prostate cancer. However, according to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), these robots are not necessarily an improvement from traditional operations. In fact, for some patients, the device may have negative outcomes. The FDA warned healthcare professionals that there is a lack of evidence proving that these devices are a safe and effective treatment option for cancer patients.
Surgical robots have been on the market for over 15 years. The da Vinci device was the first surgical robot approved by the FDA, but it was not approved for cancer treatments, including mastectomies and hysterectomies to treat cervical cancer. However, doctors continued to use the device in the operating suite, despite concerns that physicians have not been properly trained on how to use the devices, and whether traditional methods are better for their patients. According to the assistant director for the health of women at the FDA’s Center for Devices and Radiological Health, doctors should be better informed about the risks associated with these devices so they can make informed decisions about their patients’ treatment and care.
Studies Highlight Risks of Surgical Robots Used to Treat Cervical Cancer
Two studies published in the New England Journal of Medicine bring attention to the negative outcomes that occur when surgical robots are used to treat cervical cancer:
- A clinical trial was terminated after investigators discovered that women who had minimally invasive hysterectomies to treat cervical cancer, including procedures where the physician used a surgical robot, experienced four times as many cancer recurrences and six times as many deaths compared to patients whose physician did not use surgical robots. These findings were significant because a radical hysterectomy is an extremely effective method of curing cervical cancer.
- A study funded by the National Institutes of Health examined the outcomes of 2,461 women who were treated for cervical cancer using different types of surgeries. The study examined the records of the patients four years after their surgery and found that 9.1 percent of women who had minimally invasive surgery died, whereas 5.3 percent of patients who had open surgery died.
It is not entirely clear why robotic surgery has particularly bad outcomes with cervical cancer patients, but one possible explanation may be that the instruments used to manipulate the cervix may cause the spread of cancer cells. It is also possible that the carbon dioxide that is pumped into the abdomen during robotic procedures may increase the risk of cancer cells implanting. Despite the evidence that robot surgery can cause harm, many surgeons continue to recommend this treatment option to patients.
Baltimore Medical Malpractice Lawyers at LeViness, Tolzman & Hamilton Advocate for Victims of Medical Negligence
If you were injured, or your health was compromised in any way after a surgical procedure where your physician used a surgical robot, contact the Baltimore medical malpractice lawyers at LeViness, Tolzman & Hamilton. There are known risks associated with these devices and we will determine who is responsible for jeopardizing your health. Our experienced and compassionate team will seek the maximum financial compensation you deserve, protecting your rights along the way. To schedule a free consultation, call us today at 800-547-4LAW (4529) or contact us online.
Our offices are located in Baltimore, Columbia, Glen Burnie, and Towson, allowing us to represent medical malpractice victims in Maryland, including those in Anne Arundel County, Baltimore County, Carroll County, Harford County, Howard County, Montgomery County, Maryland’s Western Counties, Prince George’s County, Queen Anne’s County, Southern Maryland, and the Eastern Shore, as well as the communities of Catonsville, Essex, Halethorpe, Middle River, Rosedale, Gwynn Oak, Brooklandville, Dundalk, Pikesville, Nottingham, Windsor Mill, Lutherville, Timonium, Sparrows Point, Ridgewood, and Elkridge.