Gynecologic oncology patients benefit from finer techniques of laparoscopic surgery

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In July 2007, the Gynecologic Oncology Disease Site Team at the Juravinski Cancer Centre (JCC) welcomed a new physician to the division, Dr. Jan Hauspy. A native of Belgium, Hauspy, who had just completed a Fellowship at the University of Toronto, was looking to join a team where he could contribute to quality patient care with his expertise in complex gynecological laparoscopic surgery. During his Fellowship, Hauspy had the opportunity to study under the tutelage of Dr. Alan Covens and Dr. Rachel Kupets, the Canadian ‘gurus’ of this technique, and is now among the few surgeons in North America qualified to perform the intricate procedure.

Since joining the team nine months ago, Hauspy has shown a strong commitment to further developing the laparoscopic surgery program at the JCC. Although this service is not completely new to the JCC, by coming on board, Hauspy has introduced new procedures which involves more instrumentation and is generally more laparoscopic in nature. For certain conditions such as endometrial and cervical cancer the laparoscopic option which Hauspy performs, serves both a diagnostic and therapeutic purpose in disease management.

Performed using an instrument called a laparoscope, which is inserted through a one-centimetre incision made in the abdomen; the device allows doctors to see inside a person’s body by relaying images from the abdomen cavity onto monitors. Three to four additional one-centimetre incisions are used for the operating instruments. With five times the magnification projected on the screen, surgeons are able to have a better view of the lymph nodes and organs that need to be removed in order to stage the spread of cancer.

Yielding the same results as open surgeries, the benefit of minimally invasive surgery for patients is in the recovery time. Since laparoscopic surgery involves tiny incisions, there is less blood transfusion, less pain and patients are able to heal quicker. The benefit of a faster recovery is definitely a welcome advantage in gynecologic oncology cases because it also means that patients are able to receive other treatments quicker. Patients who undergo laparoscopic surgery are also happy to know that, in most instances, the procedure can result in same day discharge from hospital.

Barbara Corso, a patient of Hauspy’s who recently underwent laparoscopic surgery for endometrial cancer, was certainly pleased with her outcome after surgery. “I felt completely fine and didn’t need to take any pain medication. I wasn’t uncomfortable at all.”

In fact, Barbara who is a Toronto Maple Leafs fan even admitted to catching the hockey game on television the same night of her surgery. From her perspective it was an “all around good day” – her surgery went well and the Leafs finally won a game too!

Patients have not been the only ones to benefit from Hauspy’s surgical experience. He has also been actively teaching colleagues and residents the finer techniques of complex laparoscopic surgery. In a twist of roles, Hauspy, who was once mentored by his Gynecologic Oncology colleagues at the JCC when he was completing his Fellowship, is now the one teaching them – literally training his trainers.

“It has been a great and rewarding experience for me to teach colleagues, whom I respect, the finer skills and techniques involved in laparoscopic surgery, as this is something that wasn’t available to them in their training,” says Hauspy.

Dr. Laurie Elit, a Gynecologic Oncologist at the JCC, is appreciative of her colleague’s efforts in developing the gynecological laparoscopic surgery program at the JCC. “Dr. Hauspy has been a welcome addition to our team. The work he has been doing in terms of training is invaluable to us as a team and as an organization because it allows us to expand and strengthen our care offering to patients.”