Transoral robotic surgery is a minimally invasive procedure in which a surgeon uses a computer-enhanced system to guide an endoscope–a flexible tube with a light and camera attached to it – to provide high-resolution, 3D images of the back of the mouth and throat, an area that is difficult to reach with conventional tools. Two robotically guided instruments, acting as a surgeon’s arms, work around corners to safely remove tumors from surrounding tissue.
The Cedars-Sinai retrospective, observational study, which used data from the National Cancer Database, included 9,745 surgical patients—2,694 of whom underwent transoral robotic surgery between 2010 and 2015. The authors found that the five-year overall survival rate for patients with early-stage disease who underwent robotic surgery was 84.5%, compared with 80.3% for patients who had non-robotic surgery, after adjusting for differences in health and other characteristics of the two patient groups.
“At a minimum, robotic surgery for oropharyngeal cancer patients seems safe and effective compared to what’s been the standard of care for many years,” said Zachary S. Zumsteg, MD, assistant professor of Radiation Oncology, referring to standard surgery, radiation therapy and chemotherapy. He is the study’s senior and corresponding author. Anthony T. Nguyen, MD, PhD, a resident in the Department of Radiation Oncology, is the study’s lead author.