Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

'Beavertail' Surgery Helps Tongue Cancer Patients

Date:
January 17, 2007
Source:
University of Alberta
Summary:
A new surgical technique pioneered at the University of Alberta has given back the ability to swallow to patients with tongue cancer.

Drs. Hadi Seikaly and Dan O’Connell are making it easier for survivors of tongue cancer to eat on their own.
Credit: Image courtesy of University of Alberta

A new surgical technique pioneered at the University of Alberta has given back the ability to swallow to patients with tongue cancer.

Related Articles


By modifying an existing technique of transplanting tissue from a patient's forearm to his tongue, surgeons can provide enough bulk to help improve the vital process of swallowing. The modification involves including a 'jellyroll'of fat and connective tissue along with the tissue and skin of the forearm to replace the diseased tongue tissue that is removed if a patient opts for surgical treatment of the cancer. The surgery is then followed up with radiation or chemotherapy, but that shrinks and scars the tongue, turning normally elastic and pliable tissue to something like wood. This reduces the patient's ability to swallow to the point that they must be fed through a tube placed through their skin directly into the stomach, because they can't take enough food to maintain their calorie requirements.

The so-called 'beavertail' modification adds more bulk to the tongue, helping protect it from the effects of radiotherapy.

The study's findings support the position that the surgery is just as effective as the standard treatment of combined chemotherapy and radiotherapy, but the surgical technique also preserves the patient's ability to swallow, said Dr. Dan O'Connell, lead author on the study and a surgical resident in the University of Alberta's Division of Otolarynology -- Head and Neck Surgery.

"Other centres in Canada treat patients using radiotherapy and chemotherapy alone, and it was thought that the results were as good or better than what any surgery could do," O'Connell said. "But we found that by adding that jellyroll of tissue, you give the tongue ability to compensate for its lack of mobility." The technique, developed by Dr. Hadi Seikaly and Dr. Jeff Harris, preserves the patient's ability to swallow after treatment.

The study was conducted jointly by researchers in the University of Alberta faculties of Medicine and Dentistry, and Rehabilitation Medicine, as well as the Misericordia Hospital in Edmonton, Canada. O'Connell presented their findings at the international meeting of the annual American Head and Neck Society in Chicago earlier this year, where the study won the title of Best Resident Clinical Research Award.

The beavertail modification meant that 95 per cent of the 20 patients who completed the study (there were 36 originally) were able to swallow successfully after one year of tongue reconstruction. Only one patient still had problems with swallowing.

The surgery involves removing the cancerous tissue and replacing it with a healthy paddle of skin and connective tissue with artery intact, and connecting it to healthy blood vessels in the neck. The beavertail of fat that comes with the skin is connected to the base of the tongue to add bulk, and tolled upon itself, much like a jellyroll. The tongue is crucial to the swallowing process; the base of a healthy tongue acts as a piston that pushes food down the throat. With surgery, the reconstructed tongue instead acts as a buttress, which squeezes the food into the esophagus.

There are about 900 cases of cancer of the base of tongue or tonsils diagnosed in Canada each year, and while that accounts for just one per cent of all cancers in North America, doctors are seeing a disturbing trend. The cancer is attributed to smoking and alcohol consumption, but the fastest-growing group of new cases involves people who don't have those risk factors. "It's not an epidemic, but it is scary when you realize you can do everything right and still be saddled with this condition," O'Connell noted.

The research team hopes the study's findings will convince other doctors treating patients with base of tongue cancers that primary surgery followed by radiation gives them the best chance at swallowing after their treatment.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Alberta. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

University of Alberta. "'Beavertail' Surgery Helps Tongue Cancer Patients." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 17 January 2007. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/01/070116205509.htm>.
University of Alberta. (2007, January 17). 'Beavertail' Surgery Helps Tongue Cancer Patients. ScienceDaily. Retrieved December 18, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/01/070116205509.htm
University of Alberta. "'Beavertail' Surgery Helps Tongue Cancer Patients." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/01/070116205509.htm (accessed December 18, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Health & Medicine News

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Kids Die While Under Protective Services

Kids Die While Under Protective Services

AP (Dec. 18, 2014) As part of a six-month investigation of child maltreatment deaths, the AP found that hundreds of deaths from horrific abuse and neglect could have been prevented. AP's Haven Daley reports. (Dec. 18) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
UN: Up to One Million Facing Hunger in Ebola-Hit Countries

UN: Up to One Million Facing Hunger in Ebola-Hit Countries

AFP (Dec. 17, 2014) Border closures, quarantines and crop losses in West African nations battling the Ebola virus could lead to as many as one million people going hungry, UN food agencies said on Wednesday. Duration: 00:52 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
When You Lose Weight, This Is Where The Fat Goes

When You Lose Weight, This Is Where The Fat Goes

Newsy (Dec. 17, 2014) Can fat disappear into thin air? New research finds that during weight loss, over 80 percent of a person's fat molecules escape through the lungs. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Why Your Boss Should Let You Sleep In

Why Your Boss Should Let You Sleep In

Newsy (Dec. 17, 2014) According to research out of the University of Pennsylvania, waking up for work is the biggest factor that causes Americans to lose sleep. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins