Throat Cancer Center

Man holding throatThe Midwest Institute for Robotic Surgery at Silver Cross Hospital is a leader in performing robotic surgery to treat throat cancer.

  • Sung Chung, M.D., and Rajeev Mehta, M.D., F.A.C.S., are among the first in the region to offer transoral robotic surgery (TORS) to treat throat cancer.
  • TORS is often referred to as “incision-less” surgery since surgeons can access tumors through the mouth, using the slender operating arms of the da Vinci robotic-assisted surgical system, thus not requiring an open skin incision.
  • Silver Cross is part of an elite group of nationally recognized General Surgery Epicenters.
  • Physicians from all over the U.S. travel to Silver Cross Hospital to learn robotic and Single-Site® techniques from the surgical team.

Throat Cancer

Throat cancer is a type of head and neck cancer. It has different names, depending on which part of the throat is affected; the different parts of the throat are called the oropharynx, the hypopharynx, the nasopharynx, and the larynx, or voice box.

Sites of Throat Cancer

  • Oral cavity, including the inner lip, tongue, floor of mouth, gingivae (gums) and hard palate (roof of mouth)
  • Nasopharynx, including the nasal cavities and tubes that connect the upper part of the throat
  • Oropharynx, including the soft palate, base of tongue and tonsils
  • Larynx, which mainly consists of the voice box and vocal cords
  • Trachea, also known as the windpipe

The main risk factors for throat cancer are using tobacco and heavy drinking. Certain types of throat cancer also have other risk factors. For example, having HPV is a risk factor for oropharyngeal cancer.

  • Symptoms of throat cancer may include:
  • A sore throat that does not go away
  • A lump in the neck
  • Pain or ringing in the ears
  • Trouble swallowing
  • Ear pain

To diagnose throat cancers, doctors may do a physical exam and history, imaging tests, and a biopsy. You may also need other tests, depending on the type of cancer. Treatments include surgery, radiation therapy, and chemotherapy.

Surgical Options for Throat Cancer

Traditional Surgery

Tumors in the throat, base of the tongue, and tonsils can be a challenge to reach and have traditionally been removed through surgeries requiring a large neck incision and cutting of the bottom jaw. These types of surgeries often require long hospital stays, extensive rehabilitation and may result in difficulty in swallowing and speaking.

Minimally Invasive Surgery

Advances in surgical equipment have made it possible to reach these tumors through the mouth by using robotic technology and minimally invasive techniques. Transoral robotic-assisted surgery (TORS) is a minimally invasive option to open surgery using the da Vinci robotic-assisted surgical system.

Thanks to its high-definition, 3-D camera, the da Vinci system enables surgeons to operate through the mouth with no external incisions or scars to the face. The revolutionary technology offers unparalleled views of the back of the throat. And its sophisticated robotic instrumentation, which translates the surgeon’s movements to a robotic arm, allows surgeons to work in tight, hard-to-reach places in the throat, removing tissues with the utmost precision.

Because the procedure is performed through the mouth, patients experience significantly less pain and recovery time. In most cases, patients are released from the hospital one or two days after surgery, compared to longer stays with the traditional method of surgery. Full recovery takes up to four weeks

Benefits of TORS

  • Precise removal of cancerous tissue
  • Low rate of complications
  • Low blood loss
  • Minimal need for tracheotomy (breathing tube)
  • Minimal need for chemo-radiation therapy
  • Ability to swallow following surgery
  • Short hospital stay
  • No visible scarring or disfigurement.

To be affiliated with the Midwest Institute of Robotic Surgery at Silver Cross Hospital, surgeons must meet rigorous criteria and demonstrate excellent outcomes and high patient satisfaction.

Physicians on Silver Cross Hospital’s Medical Staff have expertise in their areas of practice to meet the needs of patients seeking their care. These physicians are independent practitioners on the Medical Staff and are not the agents or employees of Silver Cross Hospital. They treat patients based upon their independent medical judgment and they bill patients separately for their services.