Patients with cancers of the head and neck have long been faced with a daunting reality: because of the delicate anatomy of the face, neck and throat, tumors located in these sensitive areas of the body are often difficult to remove, especially without extensive damage to the jaw, nose or other affected features. But recent advances in robotic surgery technologies are offering oncologists new tools to allow them to reach and remove such tumors with less damage than more invasive approaches.
“Robotic surgery is the way of the future. Without robotic surgery, I would not be able to operate in a minimally invasive fashion. This is a complete game changer for head and neck cancer surgery,” says Brad Mons, DO, Otolaryngologist and Head, Neck and Microvascular Reconstructive Surgeon at Cancer Treatment Centers of America® (CTCA) in Tulsa, Oklahoma.
One recent advancement in robotic surgery uses flexible robotic tools, fitted with a camera and inserted in the patient’s mouth, to reach tumors located deep in the head and neck area. The technology translates the surgeon’s hand and finger movements in real time in directing the instruments throughout the procedure, allowing the surgeon to operate on areas of the oropharynx (the part of the throat directly behind the mouth), the hypopharynx (the part of the throat that serves as the entrance to the esophagus) and the larynx (the voice box) that aren’t typically or easily accessible with standard instruments.
“Using a robotic system, I am able to access their cancer without having to make a large incision in their neck. That way, they can go home sooner and return to work sooner and have a lot less pain,” says Dr. Mons.
Watch the video below to learn more about robotic surgery options to treat head and neck cancers.