Transoral Robotic Surgeon- Throat Cancer
Throat cancer is increasing in incidence. Over 80% of oropharyngeal (tonsil and base of tongue) cancer seen in Melbourne is related to the human papilloma virus (HPV). It is often seen in younger patients and commonly occurs in people in their 40's and 50's.
Over the last two decades most throat cancers have been treated with radiotherapy. Chronic side effects of this therapy include fibrosis of throat tissues leading to considerable swallowing problems that may present many years after being cured.
There has recently been a trend towards transoral surgery for throat cancer in the United States in order to limit radiotherapy dose to the throat. Many patients still require radiotherapy after surgery but the dose to the throat may be significantly reduced. Multiple international trials are currently investigating whether toxicity is reduced when surgery is used as the primary treatment.
At Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre we are engaged in research to establish which modality is best. Both treatments are offered and all patients are discussed at the Multi-disciplinary meeting to assess suitability.
Transoral Robotic Surgery
Dr Dixon is the most experienced Transoral Robotic surgeon in Melbourne. He performs Transoral Robotic Surgery (TORS) and Transoral LASER microsurgery (TLM) for throat cancers. Each technique has some specific benefits. Both allow for removal of tumours in the throat and voice box without external incisions.
Robotic surgery is performed with the da Vinci system. This method is commonly used in the United States and is becoming increasingly popular around the world.
Robotic ports are inserted through the mouth. Advantages of this method are:
- a magnified 3D high-definition vision system.
- special wristed instruments that bend and rotate far greater than the human wrist.
- precise removal of cancerous tissue
Clinical examination and imaging (CT or MRI scans) are essential to assess suitability for transoral surgery.