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When investigating pelvic cancers (such as prostate, testicular, cervical, and uterine cancers) it is important to know whether the disease has spread to the lymph nodes in the region.
This knowledge helps doctors understand how advanced the cancer is, and thus how to treat it. Although lymph nodes can be biopsied or removed during a surgical procedure, it is now often possible to use a less invasive approach called a laparoscopic lymphadenectomy.
How laparoscopic lymphadenectomy works
During a laparoscopic lymphadenectomy the surgeon makes a small incision in the lower abdomen to reach the lymph nodes. A tiny tube with a light and a camera (i.e., a laparoscope) is inserted into the incision and directed to the lymph nodes.
The doctor navigates and inspects the region on a TV-like monitor that receives images from the camera, and can biopsy or remove the lymph nodes with a cutting instrument and tissue retrieval apparatus that is also part of the laparoscope.
Laparoscopic lymphadenectomy can provide results equivalent to surgical biopsies or lymph node removal and, although it is carried out under general anesthesia, it is less invasive than surgery so your hospital stay will be shorter and you will recover much faster and with less pain.
In addition, the laparoscope images are magnified when they appear on the monitor, allowing your doctor to see even greater tissue detail than would be available during traditional surgery.
Stanford has been a leading center in advancing the use of laparoscopic lymphadenectomy since the early 1990s. Doctors at the Stanford Cancer Center have been among the first to use the procedure in prostate cancer, endometrial cancer, and other genitourinary cancers.
Like all surgeries, the success of laparoscopic surgery is related to doctor's experience with the technique. With well over a decade of experience, you can be assured that the Stanford Cancer Center provides the reliable, quality care that is essential when you are facing cancer.