• Cautionary considerations regarding N.O.T.E.S. in oncology.

      O'Riordain, M G; Mercy University Hospital, Grenville Place, Cork, Ireland. (2012-01-31)
      Over the last number of years, the emphasis in abdominal surgery has been to reduce invasiveness and to minimise trauma to the patient. This has led to the rapid development of laparoscopic techniques initially for the surgical management of benign disease and later for the successful management of malignant disease. Laparoscopy has now been shown to provide significant benefits to the cancer patient, in particular the reduction of wound infection, herniation and pain. More recently, benefits have been demonstrated in earlier discharge from hospital and return to normal activity. Laparoscopy has therefore been accepted as at least a valid alternative to open surgery for most types of abdominal cancer. With the objective of reducing invasiveness even more, the last few years has seen a rapid expansion in the development of Natural Orifice Translumenal Endoscopic Surgery (NOTES). Currently, NOTES is still in the early stages of evolution but its potential uses in the field of cancer surgery are already being proposed. To develop NOTES to the stage that it will be safe, effective and widely available for the management of cancer patients represents a huge challenge ranging from the development of equipment and techniques to the demonstration of safety and efficacy in clinical trials as well as training and competence issues. It is still not clear whether these challenges will be surmounted so that NOTES becomes mainstream therapy. A period of 'watchful waiting' seems appropriate therefore for the uncommitted general surgeon in order that NOTES may be given time to prove compelling and convincing before its general uptake into routine practice.