KIMA - Korea International Medical Association


Asan Medical Center Achieved 500 Robotic Esophageal Cancer Surgeries as the Most in Asia

April 21,2021

Korean medical staff has recently hit the record of 500 cases of robotic esophageal cancer surgery in Asia.

Esophageal cancer surgery is very painful due to extensive incisions in the chest, stomach, and neck.
An incision is made about 20cm in the side and abdomen.
Unlike the conventional incision surgery, esophageal cancer robotic surgery makes only 4 to 5 holes less than 1cm in the chest and abdomen so that scars, pain, and complications can be reduced.

Professor Yonghee Kim and his team at the Department of Thoracic and Cardiovascular Surgery, Asan Medical Center in Seoul have recently successfully performed robotic surgery for esophageal cancer to a 56-year-old patient, and achieved 500 cases of robotic surgery for esophageal cancer as the first individual in Asia.
In particular, Professor Yonghee Kim and his team have the record that they reduced the operation time 8 to 9 hours to 5 hours and the hospitalization period 2 weeks to 1 week in cooperation with medical staff in various fields including gastrointestinal surgery, colon and anal surgery, and otorhinolaryngology.
These surgical achievements were supported by a close collaborative system among various medical departments.
The esophageal cancer center of the Asan Medical Center Cancer Hospital is setting the direction for patient-specific surgery by introducing integrated treatment for esophageal cancer in which medical staff from thoracic surgery (pulmonary esophageal surgery), radiation oncology, oncology and gastroenterology gather together to treat patients.

In addition, Professor Kim's team has gained the most experience in robotic surgery for esophageal cancer in Asia and has expanded the scope of robotic surgery.
In the past, robotic surgery could be performed only for early esophageal cancer patients, but now it has become available not only for the patients with advanced esophageal cancer, but also for the elderly who have difficulty in surgery due to high risk of complications, and for the patients with poor health in other organs including the heart and lungs.

Professor Yonghee Kim said, "The treatment of esophageal cancer is difficult compared to other cancers, and it result can differ depending on the surgical method and experience. Still many parts of esophageal cancer treatment should be developed worldwide.
He also added, "Based on our accumulated know-how, we will also strive to establish international standards for robotic surgery of esophageal cancer."

Recently, the number of patients undergoing esophageal cancer surgery in 2020 at Asan Medical Center has increased to about 1.7 times more than the number 10 years ago (2010).
The number of patients undergoing robotic surgery for esophageal cancer has gradually increased, and about 60% of patients went through robotic surgery last year.