Ann Conkle
Mar 1, 2012

Robotic surgery proves successful, less invasive way to treat HPV-related oral cancer

Over the past few decades, doctors have noted a surprising trend in cancer of the tonsils and base of the tongue in a new type of patient: 30- to 50-year-old nonsmokers with the human papillomavirus (HPV). Fortunately, the newer form of cancer tends to be less aggressive, and the latest approach to treating the tumors can avoid the debilitating consequences of open neck surgery or extensive radiation. Robotic surgery conducted through patients' mouths provides excellent results in removing squamous cell carcinoma at the back of the throat, especially in patients with HPV, a Mayo Clinic study published in the March issue of Mayo Clinic Proceedings found. "We were surprised that the cancer cure results were even better than the traditional treatments that we have been doing,” says author Eric Moore, a head and neck surgeon at Mayo Clinic. "Importantly, the treatment preserved patients' ability to swallow and their speech performance was excellent."