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Gynecologic cancer and laparoscopy.

Numerous technologic and surgical advances have led to the application of operative laparoscopic techniques to gynecologic cancers. Operative laparoscopy has been described in the surgical staging and treatment of patients with ovarian, cervical, and endometrial cancers. it seems to be a very promising approach with the potential to revolutionize numerous aspects of the management of gynecologic malignancies. Since 1996, the SGO has offered an operative laparoscopy course to all gynecologic oncology fellowship programs. Boike and colleagues report that faculty and fellows from 25 different fellowship programs have attended the 2-day course. In questionnaires filled out at the completion of the course, more than 85% of respondents believed that operative laparoscopic procedures were equivalent to open techniques and should be taught in fellowship programs. Despite the enthusiasm for the use of endoscopy in patients with gynecologic malignancies, its potential is unconfirmed and its hazards unknown. Reports regarding complications and long-term results are just now beginning to be published. More clinical data must be collected before the minimally invasive techniques can be accepted as new surgical standards. Ongoing prospective clinical trials will help to answer many of the questions regarding safety and efficacy. Pending the completion of additional trials, operative laparoscopy will remain a promising but unproven tool in the management of patients with gynecologic cancer.

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