Finally a Treatment for Oral Cancer?


Maika Normand

Mark Mcgurk may have found a treatment for neck and head cancer.

When we do surgeries on the face like mouth and jaw it can be very destructive because of the magnitude of these surgeries. So the objective of this is to pass from big surgeries to little operations that are less invasive. But it’s not that easy to find something like this that can cure cancer.

Some techniques were already invented in the UK, like Sentinel Node Biopsy (SNB). This technique is for jaws operations. This is used when we need to remove odontogenic tumors and this was invented particularly for the treatment of salivary glands.

Professor Mark Mcgurk was interested in salivary glands and in the last year, some things came to his mind. That is what helped in the creation of this treatment. Simon Morley, a brilliant radiologist, knows how to trace the facial nerve. With this info and new technology, we made a big advancement.

Three-quarters of salivary glands start in the parotid gland because it is the biggest salivary gland in the human body. We all know that when there is more tissue, there is a bigger chance to have problems in this area. The problem is that this gland sits on one side of your face and the facial nerve is very very close. This nerve controls your face. If you want to have emotions, it is this nerve that does the work. So, if the surgeons damage it the patient won’t be able to move this side of his face. And the nerve passes directly through this gland.

The traditional approach was that the surgeons located the nerve and carefully they were lifting the tissue of the gland but the problem is that there is a lot of risk with this type of surgery. A total parotidectomy ( the name of the operation if the tumor is below the nerve) has a 60% incidence of temporary nerve injuries and 4-6% is permanent.

The new approach is described like that. Mark Mcgurk said ”The surgeons will peel back a smaller part of the skin and carefully dissecting the lump, almost opening it up like a flower in the sense of peeling back each petal.”

I asked a teacher in the school that has a problem with this, how it feels like. She doesn’t have a problem with this nerve because of surgery but still, it’s very similar. Her words were ” When the pain starts, it’s like you are being stabbed in the face by a knife. Imagine having to live with this for the rest of your life just because your surgery to cure cancer went wrong. So it’s why Mark Mcgurk studied on this so he could find a way that this doesn’t happen.