Mar 18, 2013 - 7:12 pm
Today, I saw a Mayo head and neck cancer surgeon. Despite several MRIs, PET scans, and scope examinations of my oral cavities, they still have not found the primary site of the cancer. The only place it has shown up is in the lymph nodes, both sides. Their recommendation is robotic surgery where they would biopsy each possible site, one at a time, and if and when they find the cancer they would remove the cancerous tissue. They might end up doing both sides of the tongue and both tonsils, but if they find it earlier they would stop and not do everything. They are also proposing removing the cancerous lymph nodes during the same surgery, using robotic surgery.
They told me that robotic surgery is less invasive and more precise, so that I will have fewer side effects and a shorter recovery than if I had a conventional surgery to remove my lymph glands, tonsils and parts of the tongue.
They also proposed doing only radiation after the surgery focus on the neck and oral cavity, without chemo. The proposed course of action is the surgery followed by 2-3 weeks of recovery, then begin radiation 4 weeks after surgery and continue radiation for 6 weeks. They said the last two weeks would be the most difficult part of the radiation treatment.
The surgeon said that, yes, the surgery will change me but that the only lasting side effects will be a dry mouth and scars on my neck.
(1) What experiences have people had with the robotic surgery? What the up sides and the down sides? Is it true that side effects and recovery are better?
(2) Is it true that lasting effects are probably only going to be dry mouth? Sounds too good to be true.