Mount Sinai Among Pioneers in Robotic Surgery for Head and Neck Cancer

Mount Sinai has the largest and one of few programs in the world to treat head and neck cancers using robotic surgery.

New York, NY
 – August 28, 2012 /Press Release/  –– 

The Head and Neck Cancer Center at The Mount Sinai Medical Center is the largest, and one of only a handful of programs in the world, to treat head and neck cancers using transoral robotic surgery (TORS), a cutting-edge technology that dramatically improves outcomes in people with head and neck cancer.

TORS is a minimally invasive technique that allows surgeons to remove tumors in the head or neck through the mouth, without creating any external incisions.  It results in less scarring and fewer complications than traditional external surgery.   

Cancers of the tongue, swallowing tube, back of the throat, or thyroid gland are unique because the location of the tumors makes surgical removal difficult. Traditional surgery usually involves an external incision, beginning at the lip or jaw and extending to the ear, to gain access to the tumor, a 10-12 hour surgery that requires the patient to stay in the hospital for two weeks. The side effects of treatment are often debilitating, resulting in severe scarring and inability to speak, eat, or drink, rendering them socially isolated.

However, specialists at the Head and Neck Cancer Center at Mount Sinai have achieved an optimal outcome that includes preserving function and quality of life using robotic surgery. Typically, the procedure lasts two hours, the patient is able to return home the next day, and is able to resume all normal activities in 10 days. TORS prevents scarring and minimizes complications, such as speech trouble and swallowing dysfunction.

"Robotic surgery has revolutionized the way we care for our patients," said Eric Genden, MD, Professor and Chair of Otolaryngology, Mount Sinai School of Medicine. "This approach has been very successful in our practice in terms of clinical outcomes, but also quality of life outcomes. Our patients are back to work and their routine in a matter of days, which also reduces health care costs for them and their employers."

During the TORS procedure, a surgeon sits at a console directly controlling a robotic arm. This arm extends a small surgical instrument through the patient's mouth. Using a high powered 3-D camera, surgeons can see the surgical field better, giving them greater dexterity and surgical precision. Through the robot, a laser removes the tumor completely along with all margins to make sure all tumor tissue has been removed as well.

Mount Sinai has been performing robotic tumor resection for head and neck cancer since early 2007. Led by Dr. Genden, the Mount Sinai team has performed nearly 150 TORS procedures.

Mount Sinai's Department of Ear, Nose and Throat/Head and Neck Surgery was one of the first in the United States and ranks #1 in New York and #11 nationwide, according to U.S. News & World Report’s 2012-2013 "Best Hospitals" issue. Mount Sinai was among the first hospitals to spearhead the use of minimally invasive robotic technology for ENT/head and neck malignancies, and to establish a formal Center for Head and Neck Cancer and Center for Thyroid and Parathyroid Diseases.

About The Mount Sinai Medical Center
The Mount Sinai Medical Center encompasses both The Mount Sinai Hospital and Mount Sinai School of Medicine. Established in 1968, Mount Sinai School of Medicine is one of the leading medical schools in the United States.  The Medical School is noted for innovation in education, biomedical research, clinical care delivery, and local and global community service.  It has more than 3,400 faculty in 32 departments and 14 research institutes, and ranks among the top 20 medical schools both in National Institutes of Health (NIH) funding and by US News and World Report.

The Mount Sinai Hospital, founded in 1852, is a 1,171-bed tertiary- and quaternary-care teaching facility and one of the nation’s oldest, largest and most-respected voluntary hospitals. In 2011, US News and World Report ranked The Mount Sinai Hospital 16th on its elite Honor Roll of the nation’s top hospitals based on reputation, safety, and other patient-care factors. Mount Sinai is one of 12 integrated academic medical centers whose medical school ranks among the top 20 in NIH funding and US News and World Report and whose hospital is on the US News and World Report Honor Roll.  Nearly 60,000 people were treated at Mount Sinai as inpatients last year, and approximately 560,000 outpatient visits took place. 

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