Transoral Robotic Surgery (TORS)

This head and neck cancer treatment can lead to less pain, shorter hospital stays, and better outcomes.

Along with chemotherapy and radiation therapy, surgery is one of the standard treatment approaches for head and neck cancers. Transoral robotic surgery, or TORS, is an alternative to traditional open surgery for these cancers. TORS has many benefits over traditional surgery and may be a good option for you.

Meet Robert Bobb

Robert Bobb was diagnosed with tongue cancer in 2010. He turned to the Head and Neck Cancer team at Henry Ford Hospital. Robert shares his story of survivorship.

How does traditional surgery for head and neck cancers work?

Transoral Robotic Surgery

Traditional open surgery for these cancers may require the surgeon to make a long incision across the throat or split the jaw. These larger, more-invasive procedures can result in:

  • Damage to surrounding tissue
  • Risk of disfigurement
  • Significant pain
  • Speech and swallowing problems

How does TORS work?

Surgeons who use TORS only need to make a small incision in the mouth to remove a head or neck cancer tumor. The robot-assisted surgical equipment gives your surgeon greater precision and control during the surgery.

Some of the other benefits of TORS include:

  • Less blood loss
  • Less need for chemotherapy or radiation after surgery
  • No need for a tracheotomy (an incision in the trachea, or windpipe)
  • No visible scarring or disfigurement
  • Shorter hospital stay and faster recovery

How does Henry Ford use TORS?

Our surgeons were among the first in the country to remove head and neck tumors using TORS. Tamer Ghanem, M.D., Ph.D. and Steven Chang, M.D. are experts in the procedure.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has approved TORS for use in several different types of head and neck cancers. We can use TORS to remove both benign (noncancerous) and malignant (cancerous) tumors of the:

  • Mouth
  • Larynx (voice box)
  • Pharynx (the tube that connects the mouth and nose to the esophagus)
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