Peter Mauriello was not particularly concerned when he started to lose a lot of weight. After all, the 57-year old electrician had been dieting. In addition to shedding 20 lbs in six weeks, peter had also been experiencing night sweats. When people asked how long it had been since he had seen a physician and peter realized it had been over two years, he set up an appointment with his doctor in Anaheim. Tests revealed that he had a large tumor on his right kidney, and it was cancer.
“My doctor referred me to Dr. Bernard Turbow, who works out of Fountain Valley Regional Medical Center,” Peter recalls. The Whittier resident didn’t mind the hour’s drive. Dr. Turbow performed a radical nephrectomy. But a follow-up PET scan revealed a mass in his lung two months later.
“The kidney cancer had spread to my lung, but I had no symptoms. I was referred to Dr. Reginald Abraham, a cardiothoracic surgeon, for another surgery.”
In the early stages, lung cancer may not cause any symptoms but may be found during a routine X-ray. Traditional lung cancer surgery is often performed through a long chest incision and requires the surgeon to spread the ribs for access to the lung.
An alternative to open surgery is thoracoscopy (also called video-assisted thoracic surgery or VATS). Doctors insert a tiny camera (thorascope) and surgical instruments into your chest through small incisions. The camera takes images inside your body and sends them to a video monitor in the operating room to guide doctors as they operate.
However, since Peter’s tumor was localized enough, Dr. Abraham recommended removing the mass via robotic surgery. Robotic surgery using da Vinci technology offers precise removal of cancerous tissue, a lower rate of complications, less blood loss and a shorter stay in the hospital.
Using the da Vinci System, Dr. Abraham needed only a few tiny incisions, small robotically-controlled wrist instruments and a magnified 3D high-definition vision system to view and remove the cancerous mass. By performing a da Vinci lobectomy, Dr. Abraham was able to avoid cutting into Peter’s breastplate and the long, uncomfortable recovery that would ensue.
“With any kind of surgery, it is in the patient’s best interest to offer the widest array of techniques, technology and skill sets,” notes Dr. Abraham. “Every patient is different and treatment is not a one-size-fits-all proposition. With da Vinci robotic surgery, we were able to offer a less invasive, oncologically sound alternative for Peter so that he could get back to his life sooner.”
Peter will be under close surveillance for the rest of his life to ensure his cancer has not spread to other organs. Since his surgery, Peter has had the opportunity to compare his experiences with other lung cancer patients, and found his to be superior. “I see their scars and hear their stories and I realized I had a much better result.”