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The Colorectal Cancer Alliance conducted an online survey in 2018 to understand allies’ experiences with minimally invasive surgery. Minimally invasive surgery includes laparoscopic surgery and robotic surgery. More than 150 allies took part in the survey, and most identified themselves as patients, nearly half of which were diagnosed at stage II and a quarter at stage IV (metastatic).

What we learned:

  • 66 percent of allies who took the survey knew about minimally invasive surgery.
  • Patients learned about minimally invasive surgery mostly from their surgeon.
  • 72 percent of survey participants followed doctor's recommendations and had minimally invasive surgery. 

Most survey participants said they were aware of minimally invasive surgery at the time of their diagnosis, but 36 percent said they did not know about it. Results indicated that awareness of minimally invasive surgery techniques could rely heavily on whether their physicians discussed it with patients.

Patients relied mostly on their doctors advice. Survey participants also leaned on sources such as Google, websites like the Colorectal Cancer Alliance, and their personal networks for information.

The survey indicated that only 20 percent of caregivers' support was related to information gathering.

Patients motsly followed their trusted doctor's advice to decide on a type of surgery. Seventy-two percent of patients has minimally invasive surgery. While most patients had a discussion with their doctor, 18 percent indicated they didn't ask questions. Survey respondents also tended to not seek a second professional opinion, indicating that they trusted their healthcare team and felt they were getting the best treatment possible. Emergency situations, insurance issues, a patient’s geographic location, and simply forgetting to gain a second opinion were reasons participants cited for not seeking a second opinion. 

When it came to choosing a surgeon, almost half of survey participants followed the recommendation of their gastroenterologist, which could explain the high level of trust patients have in their healthcare provider and low number of participants who sought a second opinion. Participants said a surgeon’s ability to perform minimally invasive surgery was an important factor in their decision, while geographic proximity and experience were also factors.

Of the survey participants, 69 said they chose laparoscopic surgery and 22 chose robotic surgery. As both types of surgery are minimally invasive, the overall number of participants that chose minimally invasive surgery was 91. Sixty-six participants indicated they had traditional open surgery.

To learn more about the types of colorectal cancer surgery, click here.

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