Hook, Line and Tackling Lung Cancer

Organization: Service: Story Topics:
Lung Cancer

A Minimally Invasive Approach To Treatment

The last thing that Burton Wilkins remembers before drifting off to sleep in Orange Coast Memorial’s operating room was asking to see the robot. The 78-year-old Santa Ana resident was referring to the state-of-the-art robotic technology that enables physicians to perform complex surgical procedures with greater ease, dexterity and control.

“When I found out that I had lung cancer, I didn’t know what to expect. Once I learned that a robot was going to be part of my treatment plan, I could hardly believe it,” says Burton.

His cardiothoracic surgeon, Reginald Abraham, MD, was about to remove the lower and middle lobes of his right lung, where an early-stage, golf ball-sized cancer had been found. Burton felt reassured that this complex and delicate procedure, known as a robotic lobectomy, would involve only three tiny incisions and unmatched precision using the world’s most advanced surgical technology.

How It Works

A few feet away from Burton, Dr. Abraham sat at the da Vinci® Surgical System console. From there, he controlled every aspect of the surgery. His eyes were trained on the monitor showing magnified 3D images in brilliant color inside Burton’s chest. The robot’s four arms became precise extensions of his own two hands, translating his finger, hand and wrist movements into real-time movements of the surgical instruments.

“We no longer have to make large incisions to access the chest area. We can view and manipulate tissue in a minimally invasive way,” says Dr. Abraham. “As a result, patients experience less pain, less scarring, less risk of infection and faster recoveries than with traditional methods.”

Knowledge Is Lung Power

More men and women die from lung cancer than any other type of cancer – including breast, colon and prostate cancer combined. Smoking ranks as the number-one risk factor, followed by age. Lung cancer is also one of the most difficult cancers to treat, partly because it is often diagnosed in later stages.

“Simply put, earlier detection means more treatment options,” says Dr. Abraham. “We are now able to screen and find tumors at an early stage, especially in people with known risk factors, and offer effective therapies for longevity.”

Burton had no symptoms of lung cancer, such as pain or coughing. A routine CT scan revealed a suspicious mass on his lung.

“My lung cancer was diagnosed at stage 1B, one of the earlier stages. With the help of my doctor, I researched my condition and discovered that surgery offered the best chance for a cure,” says Burton.

Surprised By Surgery

A day after surgery, Burton was walking around the nursing unit. By the second day, he was off pain medication. “My friends and family were amazed that I was back on my feet so quickly,” says Burton.

He is building his stamina by walking about a mile each day and riding his stationary bike.

“Dr. Abraham and the entire team at Orange Coast Memorial were instrumental in my rapid recovery,” says Burton. “I couldn’t have asked for better care. I’m even hoping to go bass or trout fishing again really soon.”