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Study: Robotic Surgery Improves Survival for Some Oral Cancer Patients

Cedars-Sinai conducting study of the usage of robotic surgery to improve survival outcomes for some oral Cancer patients

“Oropharyngeal squamous cell cancer” is a mouthful to say—and the back of the mouth, as well as the throat, is exactly where its potentially deadly tumors form.

Removing malignancies from these sensitive areas requires a precise touch. New Cedars-Sinai research shows that adding the exact control of a robotic system is associated with improved survival outcomes.


“It’s reassuring to our patients that their survival rate is the same if not better with robotic surgery, and they have the potential for a better quality of life.”

— Anthony T. Nguyen, MD, PhD


Transoral robotic surgery arms surgeons with a computer-guided endoscope—a flexible tube with a light and camera—to provide high-resolution, 3D images for targeting malignancies. Using the National Cancer Database, the investigators found that the five-year survival rate for patients undergoing robotic surgery was 84.5%—a 4.2% improvement over traditional procedures. In addition, fewer robotic-surgery patients needed postoperative chemoradiation.

“It’s reassuring to our patients that their survival rate is the same if not better with robotic surgery, and they have the potential for a better quality of life,” says radiation oncology resident Anthony T. Nguyen, MD, PhD, who served as the study’s lead researcher.