Providence Head and Neck Cancer Surgeons Use Transoral Robotic Technology to Improve Surgical Outcomes

August 2, 2022 Providence News Team

New technology for transoral robotic surgery

DaVinci Single Port Flexible Bobot

Providence Portland Medical Center is one of only a few hospitals in the United States with the DaVinci SP (single port) robot. Our head and neck surgeons are using this new technology to personalize treatment, minimize the use of radiation or chemotherapy and help protect  taste and swallowing in patients who undergo cancer treatment.

“The flexible arms and high-resolution camera on the SP robot flow for expanded indications to safely remove cancers from the back of the throat in a minimally invasive manner that optimize functional outcomes," said R. Bryan Bell, M.D., D.D.S., FACS, FRCS, medical director of Providence Head and Neck Cancer Program and Clinic. In 2011, Dr. Bell was one of the first surgeons in the world to use transoral robotic surgery (TORS) to treat head and neck cancer.

In  2020, members of the Providence Head and Neck Cancer Program published a paper in the Oral Oncology Journal based on a 2011-2018 study that determined the survival in patients with HPV-positive oropharyngeal cancer treated with TORS, neck dissection and risk-adjuvant therapy.

The patients in the study had a five-year overall survival of 91%, and the five-year probability of recurrence or cancer-associated death was less than 1%. 

Clinical trial for head and neck patients

Some patients in the Providence study were also treated in the National Institutes of Health-funded clinical trial, ECOG 3311. This was a randomized trial of de-escalated radiation following TORS for intermediate-risk HPV-positive oropharyngeal cancer. The results of this trial were presented at the ASCO 2020 Virtual Scientific Program.

In 2021,  Earle A. Chiles Research Institute, a division of Providence Cancer Institute of Oregon, launched an investigator-initiated clinical trial to evaluate the safety and efficacy of using immunotherapy pembrolizumab and stereotactic body radiation therapy (SBRT) in reducing the size or eradicating tumors prior to surgery. The combination of these two therapies could also eliminate the need for daily radiation treatments and/or chemotherapy over a long period of time.

Learn more about  Providence Head and Neck Cancer Program.


Image provided by Intuitive Surgical, 2020

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