Symptoms Lead to Unexpected Diagnoses

During her annual exam with her gynecologist, Leslie Badami talked about the abnormal vaginal bleeding she was experiencing. “I was nearing menopause and was having intermittent spotting throughout the month, even though I was on birth control pills,” Leslie said. “Because I wasn’t in pain, I didn’t think it was serious and waited a few months for my yearly exam to discuss it with my gynecologist.”

After her exam, Leslie’s doctor scheduled a short procedure to diagnose the cause of the bleeding and found a malignant tumor on the endometrial wall of Leslie’s uterus.

When she heard the word, “cancer,” Leslie remembered feeling her stomach sink. “My mom was diagnosed with vulvar cancer in her fifties, and it was scary receiving the diagnosis.”

Leslie’s gynecologist referred her to Dr. Al Elbendary, a Missouri Baptist Medical Center surgeon who specializes in gynecologic oncology and robotic-assisted surgery using the da Vinci surgical system.

“When I met with Dr. Elbendary, he told me that I had an aggressive tumor and was a candidate for robotic-assisted surgery to remove the cancerous mass,” Leslie said.

A Less Invasive Procedure

Unlike traditional “open” surgery, where surgeons make one larger incision through skin and muscle, robotic-assisted surgery is a less invasive procedure with four or five small incisions less than one inch each. The surgeon inserts micro-instruments and a camera through the incisions and sits at a nearby computer console to control the instruments while seeing high-definition images of the anatomy.

“Although not every patient is a candidate for robotic surgery with the da Vinci surgical system, it offers benefits over traditional techniques,” Dr. Elbendary explained. “We see fewer complications, and patients typically recover quicker with less pain than with open procedures.”

On February 20, 2018, Leslie had robotic-assisted surgery to remove her uterus (hysterectomy), ovaries, fallopian tubes and lymph nodes. “Before this surgery, I never had abdominal surgery and didn’t know what to expect,” Leslie said. “Dr. Elbendary answered all my questions, his experience put my mind at ease and the office staff made me feel like I was one of the family.”

After the surgery, Leslie spent a night at MoBap and was discharged home the following day. “I was sore after the operation but recovered fast and returned to fulltime work within four weeks,” she said.

Because cancer hadn’t spread outside of her uterus, Leslie didn’t need chemotherapy or radiation. She returns to MoBap once a year for x-rays to make sure she remains cancer-free.

Making A Choice

Rosa Bahr also found she was a candidate for robotic-assisted surgery when her gynecologist referred her to Dr. Elbendary.

“I went to see my gynecologist because I was experiencing pelvic pain and numbness when sitting,” Rosa said. “I thought I had sciatica.”

After an examination, her gynecologist ordered testing which revealed a mass around her ovaries. He referred Rosa to Dr. Elbendary for surgery.

“In the past, I had bariatric surgery and my gallbladder removed through traditional, open techniques,” said Rosa. “I had a lot of pain and long recoveries after both procedures.”

During her consultation, Dr. Elbendary explained the benefits of faster recovery time, smaller incisions and the potential for less pain with the da Vinci robotic system.

“The minimally-invasive approach and benefits with the da Vinci procedure helped me decide that it was the surgery I wanted,” Rosa recalled.

Even though robotic-assisted surgery has become more mainstream over the past ten years, Dr. Elbendary meets patients who have misconceptions about the technique. “When patients hear the word ‘robot,’ they sometimes think a machine or a computer is performing the operation,” he said. “But the equipment doesn’t do anything on its own. The da Vinci surgical system is controlled by the surgeon, and it relies upon the surgeon’s skill and expertise.”

Dr. Elbendary removed Rosa’s fallopian tubes and ovaries with the masses and released adhesions (bands of scar-like tissue that cause organs and tissues to stick together). She was discharged home the same day.

“In comparison with my previous surgeries, I had minimal pain with the robotic-assisted surgery,” Rosa said.

Early the next week, she received news that the masses on her ovaries were benign cysts, and she didn’t need further treatment.

Rosa is grateful for the care she received at MoBap and from Dr. Elbendary. “The staff at Dr. Elbendary’s office were amazing,” she said. “Dr. Elbendary made me feel comfortable with the procedure, which I appreciated.”

Smooth Recoveries

“Even though we perform the procedure through small incisions, it’s important to realize that robotic-assisted procedures are still considered major surgery with risk of complications,” Dr. Elbendary said.

Looking back on their experiences, Leslie and Rosa are glad that they had surgery with the da Vinci technology.

“I was able to get back to my normal activities quickly,” Rosa said. “If I had a traditional, open surgery, my recovery would have been longer.”

Leslie agreed and added, “I have minimal scarring. Dr. Elbendary’s surgical skills with the da Vinci technology and the team at MoBap were amazing.”

If Leslie could change one thing about her experience, it would be to contact her gynecologist earlier to discuss the abnormal bleeding. “Trust your instincts,” she advised. “If something seems wrong, get it checked out and don’t ignore a possible problem.”

Rosa concurred, “Also, rely on your doctors. I feel fortunate that my gynecologist referred me to Dr. Elbendary for treatment.”

A New Milestone Reached

Dr. Elbendary has devoted his career to treating gynecologic cancer and other gynecologic conditions. In October 2019, he was recognized for performing his 500th robotic surgery case using the da Vinci surgical system. Because most gynecologists don’t have a large surgery volume, this number is considered rare for his specialty.

Dr. Elbendary is grateful that he can make a difference in patients’ lives. “Ten years ago, if someone had told me that we would be doing robotic surgery and achieving the outcomes we observe today, I wouldn’t have believed it possible,” he said. “I’m excited to see the progress being made with surgical technology, which helps make for an improved patient outcome and experience.”

Related Content

Find a Doctor or Make an Appointment

Our new search tool will help you choose a doctor or health care provider that is best for you or your family.

Search Now

Thumbnail of landing page of the MoBap Cancer Research website

Cancer Research - the leading edge of finding a cure.

Missouri Baptist is part of Heartland Cancer Research, one of 34 community networks that comprise the National Cancer Institute Community Oncology Research Program (NCORP).

Learn More keyboard_arrow_right

Symptoms Lead to Unexpected Diagnoses

When Leslie heard the word, “cancer,” her stomach sank.

Learn More keyboard_arrow_right

Giving Back - Theresa's Story

Read how Theresa gives back to others.
Thousands of cancer survivors are living proof that cancer can be treated successfully and people can go on to live fulfilling, happy and healthy lives. 

Learn More keyboard_arrow_right

Racing the Clock: Treating Pancreatic Cancer

Pancreatic cancer affects an estimated 38,000 people each year in the United States. The best results with treatment are achieved when surgery is used for removal of the tumor.

Learn More keyboard_arrow_right
Alissa Nicks, founder of Alissa’s Hope, presents her fourth annual gift of $5,000 to MoBap’s Breast HealthCare Center (BHCC).

Donations from Alissa’s Hope Provide Financial Help for Patients

Alissa Nicks, founder of Alissa’s Hope, and Dan Schultz, a volunteer with Alissa’s Hope, continued the charity's tradition of providing funds for screenings that can save lives, awarding grants to two MoBap cancer screening programs.

Learn More keyboard_arrow_right

Cancer Support Center

Our Cancer Support Center at the Cancer Center at Missouri Baptist focuses on cancer diagnosis, treatment, emotional support and community resources.

Learn More keyboard_arrow_right

Breast Cancer Risk Assessment & Genetic Counseling

The Breast Cancer Risk Assessment & Genetic Counseling Program at Missouri Baptist Medical Center provides comprehensive breast cancer screenings and customized surveillance plan for patients with an increased risk of breast cancer.

Learn More keyboard_arrow_right

Should You be Screened for Lung Cancer?

Lung cancer is one of the most common cancers in the world. Often the disease does not show symptoms until it has progressed to advanced stages, when it is difficult to treat and chances of survival decrease. A low-radiation-dose CT scan can detect lung cancer at its earliest stages, making treatment both easier and more effective.

Learn More keyboard_arrow_right
Prostate cancer  is the most common form of cancer in men. According to the  American Cancer Society, one in nine  men will be diagnosed with prostate  cancer during his lifetime. It is a statistic that Craig Siegel never expected he'd be among.

Living with Prostate Cancer

Prostate cancer is the most common form of cancer in men. According to the American Cancer Society, one in nine men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer during his lifetime.

Learn More keyboard_arrow_right

Rural Outreach Brings Clinical Trials to Patients

Patients like Mary Elise, a retired teacher in Ste. Genevieve, can take part in advanced clinical research thanks to the Missouri Baptist Cancer Center involvement with the Heartland Cancer Research NCORP. As part of the TAILORx trial, Mary Elise help researchers studying the effects of chemotherapy on early-state cancer.

Learn More keyboard_arrow_right

An Inside Look

Since launching in November 2014, the Missouri Baptist Medical Center Computed Tomography (CT) Lung Cancer Screening has screened 2,594 people for early-stage lung cancer. Forty-six of them had cancer. 

David Patton is one of those. Read how the nurse navigator assisted him through the program.

Learn More keyboard_arrow_right

Bring down the swelling (and your stress).

Lymphedema is a type of chronic swelling that can occur if there is damage to the lymphatic system or if the lymphatic system becomes overloaded by excess fluid due to infection or other medical issues, such as surgery, radiation or trauma to the lymph vessels. 

As the first and only National Lymphedema Network  Affiliate Treatment Center in the St. Louis area, find out how the Center for Outpatient Therapy and Wellness can help.

Learn More keyboard_arrow_right

Advanced Treatment When You Need It Most

Missouri Baptist Cancer Center is committed to offering patients the most advanced treatment and surgical options available. As early adopters of new technology, Missouri Baptist Cancer Center offers both  RapidArc™ Therapy and the da Vinci® Surgical System.

Learn More keyboard_arrow_right

Rapid Referral

We understand that every second counts in the fight against cancer. With every cancer diagnosis comes a host of possible emotional responses:  uncertainty, anger, and most of all – fear.  That is why we see patients within 48 hours after referral to our Cancer Center.

Learn More keyboard_arrow_right

Meet the MoBap Cancer Care Team

You’ll be glad to know that the physicians at Missouri Baptist Cancer Center are all leading cancer specialists. Our physician team includes board-certified specialists that are involved in investigational research and use the latest diagnostic and treatment options for our cancer patients.

Learn More keyboard_arrow_right

Palliative Care: Helping Patients Live Their Best Lives

Lynn’s husband Steve was diabetic and diagnosed with end stage renal disease 11 years ago. Without warning, Steve’s condition turned critical three years ago. Desperate for guidance and strength, Lynn was connected to April and the Palliative Care team at Missouri Baptist Medical Center.

Learn More keyboard_arrow_right

Take 5 for Lung Cancer

Lung cancer is one of the most common cancers in the world; yet recent research shows most people know very little about the disease. Did you know that more people in the United States die from lung cancer than any other type of cancer?

Learn More keyboard_arrow_right

Cancer Registry Report 2017

The Cancer Registry is known for its substantial supportive role in the Missouri Baptist Medical Center’s Cancer Program. The Registry works with physicians, administrators, healthcare providers and planners to provide support for cancer program development, to ensure compliance to regulatory reporting requirements and standards, and to serve as a primary resource for cancer information and statistical information.

Learn More keyboard_arrow_right

Cancer Registry Report 2018

The Cancer Registry is known for its substantial supportive role in the Missouri Baptist Medical Center’s Cancer Program. The Registry works with physicians, administrators, healthcare providers and planners to provide support for cancer program development, to ensure compliance to regulatory reporting requirements and standards, and to serve as a primary resource for cancer information and statistical information.

Learn More keyboard_arrow_right

New Patients and Family Information

Learn More keyboard_arrow_right