Minimally Invasive Surgery for Head & Neck Cancer

VIDEO | 13:30

Memorial Sloan Kettering surgeons participate in a panel discussion of the latest advances in head and neck cancer treatment.

Ian Ganly talks about less-invasive surgical techniques such as endoscopic laser surgery and robotic surgery.

The advantage of endoscopic laser surgery is that the surgeon can go directly to the cancer and remove it without having to make an external incision. Another advantage is that it allows the surgeon to tailor the surgery much more specifically to the patient, helping to preserve normal tissue and give the patient better function after surgery. It very often does not require hospitalization and is much less expensive.

Dr. Ganly also discusses how robotic surgery is being used to treat head and neck cancer patients. While the technology has been in use for other types of cancer such abdominal and pelvic cancers for some time, it has only been applied to head and neck cancers in the last five years. During robotic surgery, small robots equipped with cameras are placed in the mouth, allowing the surgeon to visualize the cancer and eliminating the need for external surgery. The robots can also be equipped with surgical tools allowing the surgeon to perform the surgery remotely

Jatin Shah and Snehal Patel both caution that the physician must be very selective when choosing these methods of treatment.

When deciding on treatment methods, appearance and quality of life postsurgery are increasingly becoming factors as new technologies allow for much less invasive surgeries.