Hope and Help for Pancreatic Cancer —

Robotic Whipple at LRH, featuring Dr. Manuel Molina-Vega and Dr. Kelly Koch.

Facing a diagnosis of pancreatic cancer brings with it a host of questions, namely which treatment options are available and how much travel is required to access those treatments.

We understand that our patients need comprehensive care that combines expertise, compassion, and innovative techniques, without the hassle and complications that come along with lengthy travel.

That’s why right here in Lakeland, we proudly offer one of the most innovative, and difficult to find, surgical treatments for pancreatic cancer available today — the Robotic Whipple.

Why Choose Lakeland Regional Health?

We are the only hospital in Polk County to offer the robotic Whipple. At the Hollis Cancer Center at Lakeland Regional Health, we take great pride in offering patients access to highly skilled experts like Dr. Manuel Alberto Molina-Vega and Dr. Kelly Koch. Dr. Molina-Vega has extensive experience and exceptional expertise in hepatobiliary (HPB) surgery, and is dedicated to those considering the robotic Whipple procedure. Dr. Kelly Koch specializes in surgical oncology with extensive experience with sarcoma and cancer of the pancreas, esophagus, stomach, liver, colon, skin, and more.

“Knowledge is power! I don’t want any patient leaving our interaction without an understanding of their disease and the next steps.”

An Innovative Approach to Life-Saving Surgery

As the only hospital offering this procedure in Polk County, the Whipple, also known as a pancreaticoduodenectomy, is a surgery specifically designed to remove tumors in the head of the pancreas, distal bile duct, gallbladder, regional lymph nodes, and a portion of the small intestine. This procedure is crucial in treating these conditions and has the potential to extend a patient’s life, and in some cases even cure the cancer.

“These types of advanced procedures are often found at academic medical centers and as we welcome our first graduate medical education residents, we are proud to train them in a health system that offers these types of innovative, advanced surgeries.”

Molina-Vega, MD

Surgical Oncology

Kelly Koch, MD

Surgical Oncology

Benefits of the Robotic Whipple Procedure

Traditionally, the Whipple procedure has been performed as an open surgery, meaning it required a large incision and longer recovery time. However, robotic technology has completely revolutionized this procedure, offering patients a less invasive and more precise option.

The robotic Whipple procedure has numerous benefits that set it apart, including:

  • Reduced Recovery Time — By utilizing robotic arms equipped with specialized instruments and a small camera, the surgeon can operate through several small incisions. This minimally invasive approach can lead to faster healing, reduced scarring, and less pain.
  • Higher Accuracy — The robotic Whipple procedure provides surgeons with enhanced visualization of the surgical areas, as well as a greater range of motion. This translates to a significant improvement in the accuracy of the surgery.
  • Better Outcomes — This improved accuracy leads to better outcomes and potentially increased chances of long-term survival.

Dr Molina-Vega, Dr. Koch, and the LRH hepatobiliary (HPB) team offers:

  • Unparalleled Expertise: Our surgeons possesses a wealth of knowledge and skill in hepatobiliary surgery, making them some of the foremost experts in the field. Dr. Molina-Vega has successfully performed multiple Whipple procedures and consistently delivers exceptional results.
  • Reduced Surgical Time: While many robotic Whipple surgeries can take upward of 10 hours, Dr. Molina-Vega accomplishes this intricate procedure in an average of 6 hours, giving patients the benefit of less time under anesthesia.
  • Cutting-Edge Robotic Techniques: As one of the few hospitals in the country to offer the robotic Whipple procedure, Lakeland Regional Health remains at the forefront of innovative healthcare. Our surgeons harnesses the power of robotic technology to provide patients with the most advanced surgical options available.

What to Expect During the Procedure and Recovery

Understandably, you may have concerns about the robotic Whipple procedure, such as risks and recovery time. Our goal is to ensure you feel informed and empowered throughout your treatment journey. Once it has been determined if you are a candidate for the procedure, our surgeons will thoroughly explain what to expect and address any questions or concerns you or your loved ones may have. Rest assured, our compassionate team at LRH is here to guide you through each step.

Expert Care — Close to Home

“Oftentimes, patients have to travel far away to receive this procedure. But with Lakeland Regional Health, there's no need to travel far from home for the world-class care you need.”

We are proud to be your trusted partner in your journey toward a healthier future. If you or a loved one are considering the robotic Whipple procedure, we encourage you to take the next step by scheduling a consultation.

To learn more about our screening options, please click here to book an appointment with your Primary Care Provider today. If you or a loved one was recently diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, or want to learn more about our services at our Hollis Cancer Center, please call 863.603.6565.