Life was not the same when 69 years old Mr. Gobardhan Sharma was diagnosed with cancer of base of tongue. The family said it was truly saddening to witness him go through the agony. The views and opinions expressed by different people about his cancer and its treatment added to his pain.
Approximately 500,000 people worldwide are diagnosed with head and neck cancers each year. In India, 20 to 40% of cancers arise in the head and neck region. Treatment of head and neck cancer often involves a combination of surgery, radiation, and chemotherapy. Though greatest chance of cure can be achieved with surgical removal of the cancer in most of the cases, traditional open surgical approaches require long incisions in the neck or splitting the jaw, resulting in speech and swallowing problems.
In comparison, Trans Oral Robotic Surgery (TORS) is a minimally invasive treatment option which accesses and removes the cancer through the mouth. TORS has been shown to improve long term swallowing function, reduce risk of infection and fastens the recovery time.
TORS was developed by Dr Gregory Weinstein and Dr. Bert O’Malley in 2004 at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine (PENN) and approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 2009.
During TORS, the surgeon uses a sophisticated, computer-enhanced system which displays a magnified, 3-D view of the surgical area that enables him to visualize the procedure in much greater detail than in a traditional surgery. TORS gives the surgeon an enhanced view of the cancer and surrounding tissue. Using a robotic system to guide the surgical tools, allows for more-precise movements in narrow spaces and the capability to work around corners. This result in preservation of maximum amount of healthy muscular and neurovascular tissue which helps the patient swallow on their own sooner and discharged home earlier.
Mr. Gobardhan Sharma’s cancer was successfully resected with TORS by Dr Venkatakarthikeyan C, Consultant ENT – Head & Neck Surgeon and his team. (Dr Venkatakarthikeyan was trained by Drs. Weinstein and O’Malley at PENN in Trans Oral Robotic Surgery). The patient’s recovery was remarkable. He is now pain free, eating normally and has adequate speech performance.