What is the Recovery Time from Colon Cancer Surgery?

Dr. Mark Gimbel breaks down recovery from colon cancer surgery.

colon cancer surgerySurgery is a common route of treatment for many cases of colon cancer. Like many other areas of the medical community, colon cancer surgery has made tremendous strides in the past decade. In the past, open surgery was generally the only option. But many patients will have the option of laparoscopic, or minimally invasive, surgery as well as robotic surgery.

With these more advanced colon cancer surgery techniques comes decreased recovery timelines for many patients. For more, watch Dr. Mark Gimbel in the video below:

Mark Gimbel MD:  Colon cancer surgery has evolved over the past 10 years.  It’s turned from everybody getting an open surgery to laparoscopic and now robotic surgery. There are still many indications where an open surgery needs to be performed, but there is also lot of indications where we can do minimally invasive surgery or laparoscopic robotic surgery where we make small incisions and use cameras and instruments to remove the tumor.

If someone is able to undergo a minimally invasive approach either the laparoscopic or the robotic, then the recovery is going be much quicker than somebody who has to go through a big open incision. The incision in and of itself is the limiting factor in terms of how someone is going to recover.

When you take a piece of the colon out, you have to put it back together or you have also cut all the nerves that go to the colon and the colon doesn’t work well right away.  It’s going to take some time for it to wake back up if you will. That time for the colon to wake back up usually is time spent in the hospital because the patient cannot be fed if the colon is not working.  We typically wait for the bowels to start functioning before we would send them home. Laparoscopic, or minimally invasive, has been shown to actually decrease the amount of time needed to recover in the hospital for that to occur versus an open surgery.  After this surgery, the typical recovery time is usually a couple of weeks for laparoscopic, probably about a month if you had open surgery both from a strength standpoint from how you are eating and just how you are feeling overall.

Mark Gimbel
Dr.Gimbel graduated from the University of Maryland, and then had an internship at the University of Florida, Jacksonville and residencies at Montefiore Medical Center/Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York. He spent two years doing a surgical residency fellowship at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center New York and completed a surgical oncology fellowship at Moffitt Cancer Center in Tampa, Fla.


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