A surgeon par excellence, Dr. Ritu Khare is a Consultant Surgeon practicing in the UAE for the last 15 years. She specializes in advanced laparoscopic surgery, gastrointestinal surgery, bariatric surgery, and breast diseases. Here she highlights some exciting aspects about her field.
What are some recent groundbreaking laparoscopic surgical techniques for cancer patients?
“It is an exciting phase. The first barrier has been breached. Patients’ understand how keyhole or laparoscopic surgery can benefit them. For cancers, the results of laparoscopic surgery are comparable or even better than open surgery. Patient acceptance and tolerance is better and post-operative recovery is faster. The survival of cancer patients’ has further improved with advances in adjuvant therapies. Minimally invasive surgery is by far the most important advance in the surgical field and is applicable in all sub-specialties. From a simple condition like repair of abdominal hernia or removal of the gallbladder to the most complex biliary and pancreatic surgeries; these can all be done by small holes in the abdominal wall. But it takes years of training and skills to get the correct combination.”
What makes surgeries of the breast interesting to you?
“Women are women at the core. The breast is one part of the body which signifies feminism. Even after years, there is a strong element of inhibition in women to be able to openly express discomfort, pain, or something abnormal. This inherent issue leads to a delay in diagnosis of breast cancer, which if detected early is imminently curable. Being a female in this surgical field, it has been a privilege to have been able to break this barrier. It is overwhelming to see a large number of women seeking an opinion and eventually getting diagnosed. The presence of a female surgeon is required at the grassroots level. Breast cancer is increasing at an alarming rate and despite so much hype, we still have millions who need awareness and attention. It is an honor to be at a pedestal where one can directly offer valuable service, perform surgeries, and help save someone every single day.”
What are your favorite and challenging aspects about your job as a female surgeon?
“Being a surgeon gives you ‘power’ and the humility to accompany with it. You can only try your best to save or cure the patient. Many a times you succeed and there are times you don’t. The challenges are that you need to abide by the principles and ethics. Do not advise an un-indicated surgery. Always consider as if the patient was your ‘kin’ and try to do your best. Always remember ‘The patient trusts you and has put his faith in you.’ The other challenge is to deal with prejudice. A patient comes to you because you are a female surgeon; you diagnose a breast or a colon cancer and then the same patient gets operated by a male colleague, assuming him to be more capable. If a doctor is capable to diagnose, she is capable to treat as well. We need to keep our craft, training, and skill set updated. There is no scope of complacency. There is no scope for error. The patient also has to understand and respect the years of hard work before discriminating on the basis of gender.”