Head and neck cancers are malignant tumors that appear in the head or neck region. This includes Laryngeal cancer, Mouth cancer, Nasal Cavity and Sinus cancer, Salivary gland and Parotid Gland cancer, Skull base tumors, Throat cancer, and Tongue cancer. With early detection and appropriate treatment, patients can lead normal lives after recovery from cancer.
If detected at an early stage, head and neck cancer is highly treatable. The treatment choice depends on factors like the size of tumor cells, location and the patient’s general health. There are various types of head and neck cancer treatments, such as surgery, radiation therapy, chemotherapy, and immunotherapy.
The head and neck region of the human anatomy is very sensitive, and any surgery on this area requires precision and accuracy. This is why robotic surgeries are most commonly used for these procedures. The use of robots for head and neck cancer surgery offers many benefits over standard open surgery methods. Transoral robotic surgery is a minimally invasive surgical procedure that uses the Da Vinci surgical robotic system, which gives surgeons an endoscopic view of the patient’s throat while also providing a larger surgical space, enabling more precise movements.
Dr. Sandeep Nayak, a prominent and known to be the best oncologist in Bangalore, cannot stress enough that every individual should get regular screening tests done for early cancer detection.
He specializes in TORS and other robotic surgeries for cancer treatment. His panel of doctors each specializes in different branches of oncology, and as a team, they administer the treatment of a cancer patient to maximum efficacy.
What is Transoral Robotic Surgery?
Transoral robotic surgery refers to the use of robotic technology to perform minimally invasive surgery through the mouth. In transoral robotic surgery, also known as endoscopic robotic surgery, a surgeon controls a robotic device that is inserted through the mouth and throat to enable larger access to the areas of surgery, thereby reducing morbidity and healing times while maintaining high rates of surgical success. Due to the natural curvature of the human anatomy, standard laparoscopic surgery, which is performed through tiny incisions, often leaves a surgeon with limited visibility, making it difficult to see the surgical site.
Why Choose Transoral Robotic Surgery for Head and Neck Cancer Treatment?
Head and neck cancers commonly involve the upper digestive tract, the oral cavity, and the throat. If a patient has been diagnosed with head and neck cancer, they may be candidates for transoral robotic surgery to remove their tumor and some of the surrounding area. This type of surgery offers several benefits over traditional open surgery, such as reduced pain, swelling, and swallowing difficulties post-surgery.
Who Can Be Treated with Transoral Robotic Surgery?
Patients who are candidates for transoral robotic surgery have cancers that can be removed through the mouth. This includes cancers of the tonsils and base of the tongue, some cancers of the oropharynx, and some cancers of the larynx.
The procedures include removing the tonsils if infected, lymph node biopsies, removal of benign growths in the parotid glands, thyroid surgery, removal of tumors in the salivary glands, and endoscopic procedures for gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD).
Transoral robotic surgery may not be appropriate for patients who have cancers of the palate, the inside of the cheeks, or the floor of the mouth.
TORS procedure for head and neck cancer treatment:
Before the surgery, the patient is given general anesthesia to ensure that he is completely unconscious during the procedure.
During the process, the patient is accompanied by an assistant. As the surgeon guides the robot, the assistant is responsible for assisting as needed.
The assistant places a soft rubber-like device called a bite block in his mouth to keep him from biting his tongue.
To facilitate proper exposure and access for the robotic device, particular instruments and retractors are required.
The surgeon then uses the robotic system to place a tiny camera and other surgical instruments inside the patient’s mouth to remove the cancerous growth.
Throughout the process, the two surgical arms are put into the mouth at particular angles.
The surgeon controls the robotic system on the outside next to the patient.
The technology collects and freezes normal tissues surrounding the tumor’s location for study.
When these tissues are devoid of malignant cells, the surgery is deemed complete.
PROS of TORS For Head and Neck Cancer Treatment:
- Better visualization of the surgical site: The image quality is extremely clear; if an image is blurry, it’s the surgeon’s fault, not the technology’s. The enhanced visualization allows for a more precise and accurate surgery.
- Shorter operating time: Compared to open surgery, TORS surgery is faster because the surgeon can see the entire procedure, allowing them to complete the surgery in less time.
- Less blood loss: When surgeons are more precise and accurate, they don’t have to remove as much tissue, resulting in less bleeding during and after the procedure.
- Shorter recovery time and less pain: TORS has a quicker recovery time. The reduced pain that comes with less invasive surgery can allow patients to resume their normal activities sooner than they would following open surgery.
- Fewer complications: Due to the reduced blood loss and shorter surgery times, TORS surgery has fewer complications than open surgery. Since complications are a common reason for readmission after discharge from the hospital, TORS can help patients avoid going back to the hospital.
- Smaller incision: Compared with the incision that’s needed for open surgery, the incision for TORS is much smaller.
- Fewer scars: Since the incision for TORS surgery is smaller, a patient experiences fewer scars.
CONS of TORS For Head and Neck Cancer Treatment:
- Higher cost: Compared with open surgery, TORS surgery takes a long time in the OT and more specialized staff. This translates to higher costs for the patient and the health insurance company.
- Increased risk of damage to vocal cords: Vocal cords are located very close to the incision made in the throat when the robotic device is inserted, so surgeons must be meticulous to avoid damaging them.
- chances of damage to nerves and nearby tissues.
Patient care post-Transoral Robotic Surgery for head and neck cancer:
After TORS, patients with head and neck cancer require intensive follow-up care. This includes regular cancer surveillance visits with the head and neck cancer team. After TORS, some patients with early-stage malignancies may not need chemotherapy or radiation. Others might need chemotherapy, radiation therapy, or both.
Dr. Sandeep Nayak and his team of best oncologists in India aim to deliver effective, compassionate, and patient-centered care throughout the patient’s therapy.
Transoral robotic surgery is an excellent option for patients diagnosed with head and neck cancers because it provides many benefits over open surgery, such as reduced pain, lower risk of complications, and a shorter recovery time. While the benefits of TORS surgery are many, patients need to understand the risks associated with having this type of surgery so that they can make the right decisions regarding their treatment. If you have been diagnosed with head or neck cancer, it is essential to understand your treatment options and to work with your doctor to create a treatment plan that is right for you.
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