Cool and Cancer-Free

Alma Pol was enjoying her young adulthood in Miami and her fast-paced career working in public relations for the judicial courts when a routine Pap smear came back abnormal. After a biopsy, she faced a stunning diagnosis: cancer of the cervix.

To make matters worse, her gynecologist told Ms. Pol that the standard treatment — hysterectomy, or removal of the uterus, as well as the cervix — would leave her infertile. This was not an option that Ms. Pol, whose life plan had always included children, wanted to accept, so she sought a second opinion. “I needed someone solution-oriented,” she said.

Ms. Pol made an appointment with gynecological cancer specialist Ricardo Estape, M.D., who had recently performed a robotic hysterectomy on Ms. Pol’s mother. “He was very informative and even gave me his personal cell number,” Ms. Pol recalled.

“He really cared.”

Dr. Estape developed the robotic techniques used in removing the cervix and nearby lymph nodes. “This robotic approach has given these patients the bene t of being out of the hospital in a couple of days and being able to have children down the road.”

He told Ms. Pol he would remove only her cervix, an operation called a trachelectomy. This would keep her uterus — and fertility — intact and would likely result in a quicker recovery from surgery. “He said we caught it early,” Ms. Pol said. “I felt very comfortable.”

Removing the cervix robotically avoids the open-surgery risk of heavy bleeding and offers a better view and instrument control than the laparoscopic approach. Because detaching the cervix from the uterus and reattaching the uterus to the vagina “is not a straightforward procedure, very few women who want to preserve their ability to have children have been given the option of trachelectomy,” said Dr. Estape.

Ms. Pol’s robotic surgery went well and soon after her recovery she ran a half marathon.

A year later, she remains cancer-free. She’s grateful both for the cool technology and for Dr. Estape’s warm humanity.

“He’s a doctor with heart,” she said.

Healthcare that Cares

With internationally renowned centers of excellence, 12 hospitals, more than 27,000 employees, 4,000 physicians and 200 outpatient centers, urgent care facilities and physician practices spanning across Miami-Dade, Monroe, Broward and Palm Beach counties, Baptist Health is an anchor institution of the South Florida communities we serve.

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