Robotic surgery improves outcomes for patients with oral cancers

Researchers at Cedars-Sinai in Los Angeles believe computer-enhanced systems and robotically guided instruments improve health outcomes, including for patients with early stage, oropharyngeal squamous cell cancer.

After adjustments were made for health differences and other characteristics between the two selected groups of patients, whose members were drawn from data on the National Cancer Database, Dentistry Today notes that “the five-year overall survival rate for patients with early stage disease who underwent robotic surgery was 84.5%, compared to 80.3% for patients who had non-robotic surgery.”

The number of people undergoing robotic surgery for early stage oropharyngeal cancer increased markedly following approval of the procedure in 2009 with 35.5% patients operated on in this manner in 2015 alone.

As Dentistry Today notes, the results don’t simply extend to better overall survival rates.

“… robotic surgery was [also] associated with lower rates of positive surgical margins, 12.5%, compared to a rate of 20.3% for non-robotic surgery in patients with oropharyngeal cancer. Positive surgical margins refer to cancer cells that remain at the edge of tissue that has been surgically removed. Furthermore, robotic surgery was associated with less use of postoperative chemoradiation, at 28.6%, compared to 35.7% for patients who had non-robotic surgery.”

Senior and corresponding author of the study Zachary S. Zumsteg, MD, assistant professor of radiation oncology at Cedars-Sinai, had this to say about robotic surgery versus existing methods of treatment including standard surgery, radiation therapy and chemotherapy.

“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.”

For more on this story, go to Dentistry Today

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