Dual Cancer Survivor is Helped by Robotic Surgery

patient laying down on a hospital bed
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When Robert Hutson of Oviedo first felt a lump in his throat he thought something may be wrong. He decided to wait a couple weeks and, if nothing changed, he would go see a doctor.

Two weeks later he went in. He began receiving antibiotics for an infection but nothing happened. Shortly after, a set of tests came back positive for tongue cancer.

According to the American Cancer Society's 2014 estimates, men are twice as likely as women to suffer from oral cavity and oropharyngeal cancers and an estimated 10 percent, or approximately 7,300, are expected to die from these cancers. They most commonly occur in the tongue, tonsils, oropharynx, gums and other parts of the mouth.

His good friend and neighbor encouraged him to speak with Dr. Henry Ho, Medical Director of Head and Neck Cancer at AdventHealth.

It became very clear that Dr. Ho was the right person. He's one of only a couple people who can do the robotics on the tongue. I felt very confident that this was the right place to be, and that the team of surgeons was the right team.

Robert underwent surgery with Dr. Ho at AdventHealth Winter Park.

Several months later he returned for a routine checkup. Dr. Ho mentioned that Robert's tongue felt firm, but believed that it was likely just scar tissue.

Later on in the day, something was just whispering to me. I woke that night and something was just telling me it wasn't right, said Dr. Ho.

The next morning Robert received a call directly from Dr. Ho, asking him to come back in for a CT scan. The test was positive cancer.

The cancer had moved from Robert's tongue to his throat and was now pressing against his spine and carotid artery. Dr. Ho immediately made arrangements for a second surgery with the robot to remove the new cancer.

Transoral robotic surgery (TORS) is a minimally invasive surgery that allows the surgeon to operate through the mouth, as opposed to a separate incision. Winter Park Memorial Hospital was the first hospital in the state to perform the procedure.

The robotic arms and hands not only allow surgeons to see more, they also offer heightened dexterity and have access to smaller openings, which also means quicker recovery time for the patient and less time in the hospital.

Today, Robert is cancer free and grateful he received his cancer care close to home so he could have the support of his family and friends throughout his journey.

The team was fantastic. I would highly recommend them to anyone who is getting ready to go through what I went through, said Robert.

Learn more about the Head and Neck Cancer program at AdventHealth Winter Park.

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