• New machine at Jacksonville's Baptist Health aids survival rate for certain cancers

    By: Varisa Lall Dass, Action News Jax

    Updated:

    Surgeons at Baptist Health performing oral pharyngectomies -- or mouth surgery -- can now use a Davinci machine to minimize complications -- while maximizing positive results.

    Stacey Davis said it’s a tool she wishes her grandmother had access to after her throat cancer diagnosis.

    “She had multiple, multiple surgeries, neck dissections, she ended up having to have a feeding tube," Davis said.

    The robotic Davinci machine helps patients by operating from inside a person’s esophagus.

    The machine extracts tumors from inside a person’s mouth, whereas traditional surgery requires a surgeon to cut from the outside of a patient.

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    Dr.  Russell Smith, a head and neck surgical oncologist at Baptist Health said, “If we cut through the muscles to get to the throat from the outside, that causes a lot of complications for the patients.”

    Complications include bleeding, deformities, more traumatized tissue, etc.

    The new treatment has a 90 percent curative rate.

    It comes at an important time because studies show HPV-related head and neck cancer is on the rise.

    Cancer cells in the head or neck can sometimes travel to other organs and grow there.

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