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New Surgical Procedures Added to Sentara Cancer Network 

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Sentara Cancer Network introduces two minimally-invasive surgical procedures for removing tumors of the voice box, throat, tongue and esophagus.

NORFOLK, Va. (July 9, 2010) -
Two minimally invasive procedures for removing tumors are being added to the compliment of innovative treatments offered by the Sentara Cancer Network. One of the new procedures is unique in Virginia and employs the daVinci™ robotic surgery system at Sentara Norfolk General Hospital.

TransOral Robotic Surgery
The traditional surgical method for removing malignant and benign tumors of the voice box, throat and tongue is to make an external incision across the throat. While effective in giving surgeons access, it is invasive, disfiguring and hard on patients.

TransOral Robotic Surgery (TORS) uses the precision instruments and fiber-optic camera of the daVinci™ robotic surgery system to access tumors through small incisions in the back of the mouth.

Dan Karakla, M.D., otolaryngologist and cancer surgeon with Eastern Virginia Medical School, is the first surgeon in Hampton Roads to perform TORS using the daVinci robot at Sentara Norfolk General Hospital. Prospective studies on TORS patients indicate quicker recovery of swallowing and speech abilities after surgery and shorter hospital stays.

Minimally Invasive Esophagectomy
At Sentara Leigh Hospital in Norfolk, thoracic surgeons Bethany Tan, M.D. and G. Wilkins Hubbard, M.D. of Norfolk Surgical Group, a practice of Sentara Medical Group, have begun performing minimally invasive esophagectomy procedures for both malignant and benign disease.

This procedure allows for extensive resection of esophageal tumors through small incisions in the neck, chest and abdomen in appropriate candidates. The surgical team uses a combination of thoracoscopic and laparoscopic approaches. This allows the procedure to be done with live video imaging. The esophagus is removed and replaced by the stomach, which is relocated to the neck and chest to allow patients to eat normally.

The procedure is technically challenging and requires a committed specialty team of surgeons and nurses. Patients benefit from less blood loss, less time in intensive care after surgery and a quicker return home.

Support for Patients: The Esophageal Cancer Survivors' Group
This support group is open to esophageal cancer survivors, their families, and friends to meet their unique needs. The goal is to assist patients in dealing with diagnosis, treatment and nutritional aspects of of esophageal cancer. This group will provide physical and emotional support through peer participation and education resources. Meets the second Tuesday of every month at Sentara Leigh Hospital. Call 757-261-5405 for more information.

For more health information and the latest press releases, go to the Sentara news page on

Related Links:
Sentara Cancer Network
Head and Neck Cancer
Thoracic Care at Sentara
daVinci™ robotic surgery system

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