Creating the country’s most technologically advanced cancer operating room

Our team of over 65 surgical oncologists, led by Dr. Jonathan Irish, is mastering techniques made possible by the latest endoscopic tools, imaging technology and surgical robots to remove tumours with the smallest of incisions (they have even removed tumours without any incision!). 

Thanks to our donors, we have state-of-the-art facilities like our Guided-Therapeutics operating suite where our surgeons, engineers and imaging specialists have built a customized dashboard that allows the surgical team to see where all of their instruments are in relation to critical organs and structures. 

Cancer surgery often involves cutting close to critical structures (nerves, blood vessels, other organs), which can potentially limit a surgeon, even a highly experienced one. Safely overcoming these challenges requires sophisticated navigation and tracking techniques that allow more precise removal of tumors, while sparing healthy tissue. 

In the GTx Program, surgeons use near real-time “on the table” three-dimensional images of tumors as a guide during operations. Accurate imaging, combined with computer-assisted and minimally invasive surgical techniques, means better short- and long-term outcomes for patients, including higher survival rates and an improved quality of life, both during and after treatment.

Wherever a tumour is located, it is critical to preserve as much of the affected organ as possible. The first breast lumpectomy was performed at The Princess Margaret in 1959, and we are pioneering similar procedures for kidney cancer today.

The use of surgical robotics is a key part of minimally invasive surgery.  Research at The Princess Margaret has proven the benefits to patients who undergo robotic surgery. Recovery time is faster, pain levels are lower, as is the transfusion rate. Our robotic surgeons also have the lowest “margin rate” in Ontario. When a tumour is removed, the safety rim around the tumour is called a margin – lower margin rates mean less cancer recurrence and more healthy tissue is spared.
“We’ve produced evidence that shows patients leave hospital earlier and in better condition,” says Dr. Irish. “So we’ve built a good argument that robotic surgery is not only a good business model, but also a good moral model.”
To ensure our surgical expertise is shared with the world, our surgeons publish the results of their research in high-impact scientific journals, and each year we train over 50 surgical fellows, many from outside of North America.