March is colorectal cancer awareness month.
As part of that, we're looking at treatments, so here's a robotic surgery system that's helping some patients.
Deliz Flores was in her 50s and living in Puerto Rico several years ago when she started having sharp pain in her abdomen, but before she could see her doctor, Hurricane Maria struck.
"I couldn't keep the appointment," she said. "Everything was turned upside down."
Flores relocated to Orlando, Florida, with family, but in the months it took to resettle, her symptoms got much worse. Doctors found a colon polyp that needed to come out.
"I got scared, very scared," Flores recalled. "I said this is something I have to do right away."
Dr. Teresa deBeche-Adams, a colorectal surgeon at AdventHealth Orlando, thought Flores would be a good candidate for surgery with a new robotic system, called the Senhance.
Tiny surgical tools are inserted through small holes in a patient's abdomen. Surgeons control the robot from a work station. Special glasses allow them to see inside the body in 3D, but deBeche-Adams said the biggest difference is haptic feedback.
"It actually moves a little bit if we're putting too much tension on the tissues or pushing too hard," deBeche-Adams explained. "The robot actually tells us that's happening."
Surgeons were able to remove the polyp, which ended up being cancerous.
"We did a perfect cancer operation for her," deBeche-Adams said. "All of the margins were negative. None of the lymph nodes had any spread to it, so she's pretty much done."
"I'm 100-percent confident I made the right choice," said Flores.
Because the surgery was minimally invasive, Flores was out of the hospital three days after the cancer was removed. Normally, she would have required about a seven-day hospitalization.
deBeche-Adams said in addition to cancer surgery, the Senhance can be used to treat conditions like diverticulitis and Crohn's disease.