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Crab Robot Helps Remove Stomach Cancer 83

redletterdave writes "Singaporean researchers have created a miniature robot with a pincer and a hook that can remove early-stage stomach cancers without leaving any scars. Mounted on an endoscope, it enters the patient's gut through the mouth. It has a pincer to hold cancerous tissues, and a hook that slices them off and coagulates blood to stop bleeding. With the help of a tiny camera attached to the endoscope, the surgeon sees what's inside the gut and controls the robotic arms remotely while sitting in front of a monitor screen. The robot has already helped remove early-stage stomach cancers in five patients in Hong Kong and India, using a fraction of the time normally taken in open and keyhole surgeries that put patients at higher risk of infection and leave behind scars."
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Crab Robot Helps Remove Stomach Cancer

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  • Hm... (Score:5, Funny)

    by Mursk ( 928595 ) on Wednesday February 01, 2012 @06:27PM (#38896989)
    So it's a cancer that removes cancer?

    Yo, dawg...
  • by oodaloop ( 1229816 ) on Wednesday February 01, 2012 @06:30PM (#38897017)
    Welcome to the future! It's creepy, terrifying, and bizarre. And no flying cars.
    • my cat has stomach cancer, more specifically lymphatic cancer that spread to his stomach. Would this work on cats?
      • by Genda ( 560240 ) <> on Wednesday February 01, 2012 @07:37PM (#38897661) Journal

        No, the lymphoma would still be present and just metastasize to some other organ/tissue. This might treat the tumor in the stomach, but it would only be a stop gap measure with limited viability in the long haul. There are other recent technologies however that might make a difference, including monoclonal antibodies carrying everything from toxins and markers for the immune system to nano-particles of metals that can convert various EMR into heat and kill tumors and cancer cells. You may want to do a quick look up for animal experimentation for cancer research to see if anyone in your area is conducting research for feline lymphoma.

      • If you're talking about lymphoma, that cannot be treated with surgical resection. Radiation and chemotherapy are the methods of choice.
      • by kaliann ( 1316559 ) on Wednesday February 01, 2012 @11:27PM (#38899335)

        IAAV. Very sorry to hear about your cat. I can try to offer you some information, but I encourage you to discuss options with your vet.

          Lymphoma, one of the most common forms of cancer in cats, cannot generally be cured by excision. By the time of diagnosis it is frequently in multiple organs, and it spreads easily by lymphatic ducts and blood vessels. Lymphoma has many different forms, and these vary in prognosis, so it may be worth your while to pursue further diagnostics to determine which type is being faced (B-cell, T-cell, acute, chronic, large cell, small cell, granular cell, virus associated, etc.).

        Chemotherapy is available for cats, and many vets have access to basic protocols for lymphoma or can refer you to a veterinary oncologist (cancer specialist).

        Please understand that the goals for veterinary chemotherapy are generally much different than in human medicine. Human medicine usually aims for a complete cure, and that can mean putting the patient through a very stressful - sometimes debilitating - regimen of potent drugs. By contrast, veterinary medicine considers "good time" to be a worthy goal if cure is unlikely. For example: if the highest doses of treatment return a 5% survival rate but a poor quality of life under treatment, this is unlikely to be recommended by your vet. (S)he will more likely recommend a regimen that prolongs your pet's life without severely decreasing its quality. We try to keep pets as happy/comfortable as we can for as long as we can.

        Also, even in cases where cancer-killing chemotherapy is likely to be unrewarding, anti-inflammatory and steroid drugs can provide relief from discomfort and sometimes slow progression. They also tend to be inexpensive compared to the more aggressive protocols.

        I wish you the best of luck.

        The original question of whether or not this would work on cats: a small enough version could work on cats, but a veterinarian would have to have access to it. It will be a while before this is widespread in the human market, let alone in the veterinary world. It is essentially an (immense!) improvement on the non-robotic biopsy tools already in use in endoscopy, with a lovely cautery feature built in.

        • thanks for your thoughts. We're giving Charlie pregnozone daily, which has really helped with his appetite and he's gained a pound in the past couple weeks. we're also giving him these little chemo pills once every three weeks, but we need to sequester him for a day because his pee is dangerous to Mr. Cheeks. Vet says he should have a year of good life, and we plan to enjoy it with him.
          • I'm really glad to hear that. Sounds like he will be getting some of that "good time" with you. Best of luck.

    • I'll give 30 karma to the first person who can find an article with a picture of the robot. Ok, maybe I can't give away karma, but you get my drift.

      From now on, I declare that all slashdot articles referring to robotic crustaceans MUST include either a picture or video of the robot!

  • by Lambeco ( 1705140 ) on Wednesday February 01, 2012 @06:32PM (#38897041)
    How can you write an article about a cancer-killing crab robot and not include a picture of said robo-crab?
  • That is not a robot (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Catbeller ( 118204 ) on Wednesday February 01, 2012 @06:33PM (#38897057) Homepage

    That is not a robot. It is a tele-operated tool, related to a waldo (A waldo mimics one's movements precisely - See Heinlein's story Waldo). Call it a waldo, just to keep it simple. For example, a powered suit worn by a person is a very complex waldo.

    A robot is not completely operated by a human. It can be partially so; the Mars rovers are robots that do what they are told, but interpret the commands with their own programming, as they are 45 light minutes away and cannot be controlled directly.

    A robot has it's own "brain". It independently operates in its environment by its own perception and judgement.

    A claw on a stick is not a robot. Words are important. These things have names, and confusing the terminology muddles communication.

    • by oodaloop ( 1229816 ) on Wednesday February 01, 2012 @06:41PM (#38897139)
      Sorry, I don't think that's entirely accurate. Wikipedia, among others, defines robot as a mechanical agent that be autonomous, semi-autonomous, or remote controlled. We've had bomb disposal robots for years, for instance, that are entirely remote controlled.
      • by Mursk ( 928595 )
        Yeah, as much as I want to back up the Heinlein reference, I'm not sure it's that black and white.
        • by oodaloop ( 1229816 ) on Wednesday February 01, 2012 @06:56PM (#38897291)
          Yeah, my only point is we don't yet have enough words in the English language to distinguish among all the various forms of our non-biological overlords, underlings, and peers. The word robot has been co-opted to mean almost any kind of vaguely anthropomorphic mechanism, mechanical "arm", wind-up toy, UAV, artificial voice, Mars rover, Transformer, etc. Android used to be a viable term, but now would be confused with the OS. Droid is right out.
          • by v1 ( 525388 )

            the English language to distinguish among all the various forms of our non-biological overlords, underlings, and peers.

            Indeed. I guess when I hear "robot", I think of something with at least partly autonomous operation. RC planes aren't robots. Deep sea ROVs aren't robots. The mars landers are the crossover point, designed to operate semi-autonomously, here's what to do, you know how to do it, and here's what to do if you have a problem. (which may involve us taking back more direct control)

            I think even

            • by Genda ( 560240 )

              That's not exactly true. The amount of intelligence built into remote medical technology today is fairly astounding. There are surgical robots that can be shipped to Africa for a world class surgeon to operate half a world away. That includes multiple tool sets so multiple surgeons can operate simultaneously, microscopic stereo video, enhancements that allow a surgeons tool manipulation to be smooth and precise despite the lag due to satellite communications.

              There are layers of heuristics, predictive algori

          • by Thing 1 ( 178996 )

            Droid is right out.

            I thank you for the image of a carnivorous bunny rabbit that just popped into my head. ("The Castle Arrrggghhh???")

          • Droid is right out.

            Damn. So this is not the 'droid I'm looking for?

      • by tragedy ( 27079 )

        Yeah, but bomb disposal robots aren't really robots. They're glorified remote control cars with cameras. They are very much waldos. But, then, this is one of those common usage arguments. If enough people say it is then yadda yadda yadda.

      • How about this for the distinguishing line?: Robots have a motor. Waldos are powered by humans.

        I can't think of any counterexamples off the top of my head.

        • I don't understand your distinction. In the Heinlein story, the Waldos are mechanical hands that move according to how a human moves a glove, sometimes at great distances (I seem to remember one part of the story where Waldo is on a space station wearing gloves, while the mechanical hands are on Earth). The Waldos would be powered by electricity and moved by motors. If you meant controlled by humans, then remote controlled car toys would be Waldos, which would not sit right with many slashdaughters, myself
          • You're right, "Waldos" is a bad term. I meant the devices that bear the name in real life - [] - not the proper Heinlein sort.

            The distinction I'm trying to draw is not automation, but connection. Robots are independently powered, vs remote manipulators which are direct mechanical linkages and move solely by the force input of the human.

            By my distinction, R/C toys are robots.

            • Ah, I see now. Though that would mean RC car toys would be robots, while this:


              would be a waldo. It still wouldn't differentiate between an autonomous robot like Data from a Mars rover.
    • I am quite certain that Waldo is a guy with a bad fashion sense that likes to hide out in big crowds.
  • Remote control tools (Score:5, Informative)

    by AxeTheMax ( 1163705 ) on Wednesday February 01, 2012 @06:34PM (#38897065)
    That's what it is, a remote tool controlled by the surgeon. Not a robot which would work independently.
    • by ediron2 ( 246908 )

      So, if I make a device that handles various tasks by itself, but doesn't do certain things until it gives me information and receives my meta-instructions, how is that not a robot?

      If this little stomach crab robot can swim, cling, communicate, and cauterize, but needs an MD to know what cancer looks like, it's too advanced to be considered a waldo. Wikipedia refers to these as telerobotics, as in an intermediate capability between robotics (fully autonomous) and telemanipulators (aka waldos).

      • Not jumping in to the semantics pool, but this device is attached to the endoscope and has pincers and cautery. It doesn't go wandering off on its own. Doc directs endoscope with camera, sees tumor, and - with the joystick - extends a go-go-gadget cancer-clipper which snips and cauterizes the site and (ideally) retrieves the excised portion for biopsy.

        Sounds like it's most consistent with what you are describing as telemanipulation. This thing has no ability to react to input other than what the driver

  • Oh (Score:2, Funny)

    by Hatta ( 162192 )

    So that's where crabby patties come from.

    • by Ocker3 ( 1232550 )
      Oh, the humanity errr Crabality? That such noble servants in the efforts to end cancer would end their lives as fast food, quite probably leading to More cancer.
  • and thought "Great, yet another shiny Apple iDevice"
  • by Misagon ( 1135 ) on Wednesday February 01, 2012 @06:53PM (#38897245)

    Modern endoscopes used for colonoscopy and gastroscopy already have small pincers at the end. These can cut off, and retrieve, cancer polyps in the colon -- polyps being the pre-stage to colon cancer. However, these polyps are tiny. It sounds to me like the new device described in the article is mostly like a larger variation of these pincers.

    Too bad that this "crab" device was not available seven months ago when I went through major surgery to remove a small tumour from my colon. It would have made a huge difference to me. The operation took six hours, I had a painful week at the hospital (partly because the epidural failed at one point) and over a month's absence from work. I am left with a huge scar down the entirety of my abdomen.

    • a small tumour from my colon

      The operation took six hours

      These two don't match up. Care to explain? A total colectomy usually only takes about two hours.

      Anyway, this device is essentially an upgraded version of the standard endoscopic instruments and as such isn't really a huge change - though I'm sure it's nice. They say "cancers" but I'm pretty sure that they mean the gastric equivalent of colon polyps.

      • Really? Are you sure that's the case when they do a full ileo-anal anastamosis? (That's where they fashion a J-shaped pouch from the end of the intestine and sew it to the tissue just behind the anal sphincter.) My own procedure in 2003 took six and a half hours to complete, and at the time they told me five hours was the average. I'm sure it's gotten faster, but that would be HUGE reduction. (There's also lots of variability between patients - some procedures are much more difficult than others. And so, un
        • Depends on your disease process. A total proctocolectomy for severe ulcerative colitis is a very different procedure with very different goals from those of a total colectomy for a mass, and the vast majority of people who have tumors have hemicolectomies. Yes, if you have to eliminate every bit of colorectal tissue, it's a more complicated procedure, but tumors don't generally call for that, and rectal tumors often get (at least temporary) colostomies - you don't want the stress of chemo on a brand new ana
          • Makes sense. In my case the colectomy was because dysplastic cells had shown up, meaning cancer was inevitable. And I did have a temporary colostomy that was removed after a couple of months - they called it the "takedown" procedure.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    .... causing hundreds or thousands of cancer cells to be released into the patient's bloodstream from each blob of cancer tissue that it slices away from the stomach lining. But then most surgical techniques that don't additionally remove a fair amount of the non-cancerous surrounding tissue as well as the cancer tissue, tend to also release a bunch of cancer cells into the bloodstream where they can wander around to find a new spot to set up camp.

    Better hope the followup radiation and/or chemo finishes of

    • Yeah, I was wondering about it's ability to implement wide margins myself. I don't know that much about stomach cancer, but with colon cancer there are good reasons why they do hemi or total colectomies. In fact if I remember correctly in ulcerative colitis cancer tends to show up in calm regions adjacent to the inflamed parts.
  • I read that backwards. I thought it said, "Stomach cancer robots help remove crabs." That would be useful to me right now.
  • Craaabbbb robots
    Craaabbbb robots
    Taste like crab,
    operate like robot.

  • Can it cure "the crabs", or will that cause Recursionitus*?

    * which also causes Recursionitus**

    ** which also causes Recursionitus***

    *** which also causes Recursionitus*

  • by DuranDuran ( 252246 ) on Wednesday February 01, 2012 @08:41PM (#38898241)

    Did anyone else read that as 'crap robot'? Guys?

  • I lost my wife to stomach cancer.

    Although this would not have saved her (she had traditional surgery to have most of her stomach removed), one thing I noticed through the entire journey was that the research was geared towards more common cancers, like breast and colon. I'm happy to see that treatments of other cancers still being pursued.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    I'm fairly certain this kind of thing was seen in "The microscopic mission" and similar idea with the film "Innerspace"

    That said, this is rather cool. Pretty soon you'll see video-gamer types paired with doctors to do stuff like this, where the gamer gets everything setup and the doctor does the surgical work.

  • Why not Zoidberg? He's cheaper than some boloney robot!
  • SCIENCE is FAILING us! [] Oh, wait...

  • " enters the patient's gut through the mouth."

    <involuntary visual of it leaving like a chest-burster>
  • I AM NOT LETTING A FUCKING CRAB crawl into my stomach unless it is bearing a payload of melted butter and maybe a bit of green onion.
  • The link in the summary only shows a real crab photo. Clearly this device is not a real crab. Anyone else curious to know what the ACTUAL device looks like can see in this other article, first google search link. []

  • A miniature friendly crab attacks the tumours weak spot for MASSIVE DAMAGE
  • I know someone who has late stage stomach cancer, and this technique could have made a difference had it been available earlier.... he is now sitting in hospital, and I feel for his family. I wish they could maybe make this information and techniques available quicker to other doctors. Why the hell did google ever stop its medical movement??? At least maybe when facebook gets involved, they wont stop until it is reality.

    Who will help bring about the information real time to doctors first???

The party adjourned to a hot tub, yes. Fully clothed, I might add. -- IBM employee, testifying in California State Supreme Court