In tonight's medical watch -- a taste of freedom from cancer with a more palatable treatment. Some patients who feared the worst are able to speak out about a new option to zap their cancer away.
Linda Parlin, survivor of tongue cancer says, "They knew it was head and neck, they knew it was, I believe it is said squamous cell. And usually when it is found in the neck it is in this area."
It was squamous cell cancer and it was at the base of her tongue.
Dr. Guy Petruzzelli of Rush University medical center states, "This is normal here, cancer here."
Linda Parlin, "He said it is at stage four. And I had always heard stage four is really bad. He said it's the beginning. He said I think we'll be ok."
Linda Parlin believed that, confident she had chosen the right doctor. What she didn't even realize is her surgeon uses the transoral laser to remove the disease. Others simply cut the cancer out.
Dr. Guy Petruzzelli of Rush University medical center explains, "Those approaches required getting access to those areas either through the neck which would sometimes require moving part of the voice box. Or actually through the jaw which would require an incision on the face, actually breaking the jaw."
Instead, Rush University Medical Center's Dr. Guy Petruzzelli puts a scope through the nose and points a laser at the tongue.
Dr. Guy Petruzzelli explains the laser procedure, "The heat of the carbon dioxide laser boils away, in a very precise way, the water in the tissue. So we are all about 90 percent water. So when we boil away in a very precise way this particular tissue we are left with a cut. And if we leave the laser in an appropriate configuration we also seal or coagulate the small blood vessels around what we are cutting out."
And that means patients are out of the hospital sooner...2 days versus a week, follow up treatment with radiation and chemotherapy is diminished and patients have no side effects.
Linda Parlin discusses her recovery,"It healed beautifully. And I was back to work within three weeks."
What's most important, studies show this minimally invasive procedure renders patients cancer free just as well as traditional surgery.
Dr. Guy Petruzzelli, "The addition to this technology to our management with patients headed into this cancer has been truly amazing and a great benefit."
That's important since doctors say they are seeing an increase in tongue cancers among younger non-smoking patients. The culprit -- HPV... The sexually transmitted virus that causues cervical cancer is now wreaking havoc in the mouth.