Da Vinci saves voice of throat cancer patient
Mary Pennewell wanted to shout from the rooftops about her throat cancer surgery at Baptist Health Paducah, even when she was still hoarse from the procedure.
“I think that robot is fantastic,” said Pennewell, 54, of Union City, Tenn. “I got over the surgery so easy.”
Pennewell still has her voice, which she considers a blessing in view of her cancer. “I’m a grandmother,” she said, “and I wanted to still be able to talk to my grandchildren.”
Her voice was spared by an innovative procedure to treat throat cancer – the da Vinci TransOral Robotic Surgery. Baptist Health Paducah is the first hospital in the region to offer da Vinci robotic surgery.
“We’re very excited about this new da Vinci procedure to treat cancerous and non-cancerous diseases of the throat,” said otolaryngologist Daren Kest, D.O. “What it offers is no more scarring of the face. Patients are swallowing sooner. They are able to maintain a good voice, and their hospital stay is much shorter.”
The cancer can be removed through the mouth with no external incisions or insertion of tubes for breathing and feeding. In contrast, traditional open surgery may involve a long incision through the neck, chin, jaw and throat – often requiring a breathing tube and possibly a feeding tube and removal of the voice box. The da Vinci may eliminate or reduce the need for chemotherapy and radiation, reducing the side effects of further cancer treatment.
Pennewell was diagnosed with throat cancer after 39 years of smoking. She pledged to quit while she was still in the hospital and has kept her pledge.
She was relieved she didn’t have to go to a bigger city for innovative surgery.
“So far it’s been great for me,” said Pennewell. “The robot can do things hands can’t do. It’s less invasive and has a quicker recovery time. It’s the easiest surgery I’ve ever had in my life.”
For more information, contact Baptist Health Line at (270) 575-2918.