Rare case of tongue and neck cancer in Dubai

By Eudore R. Chand

DUBAI 11 November 2019: A rare and critical cancer was successfully treated in a seven-hour operation in Dubai which also required partial removal and re-formation of the patient’s tongue.

The successful surgical treatment of tongue and neck cancer was carried out by Professor Jehad Al Sukhun, Oral Maxillofacial Surgeon at Medcare Hospital Dubai.

A 62-year-old lady came in with severe pain around her mouth and difficulty when swallowing or breathing. The patient had a history of daily tobacco chewing, as well as other medical diseases such as diabetes and uncontrolled hypertension.

Professor Al Sukhun conducted a thorough investigation to find an aggressive squamous cell carcinoma in the patients tongue which had spread to the lymph nodes in the neck region. The cancer was found at quite an advanced stage, meaning it would be difficult to treat and required an invasive surgery. Prof Al Sukhun required over seven hours in the operating room to perform this rare and delicate partial glossectomy and bilateral neck dissection surgery.

Due to the extent of the tumor, the patient required a sizeable major resection of the tongue and floor of the mouth, while undergoing removal of the lymph nodes in the neck. Professor Al Sukhun used the soft tissue in the mouth to successfully reconstruct the defect.

“The patients case history made this operation challenging as she was a diabetic and suffered from hypothyroidism with uncontrolled high blood pressure. However, the surgery went without any hitch and was very successful. The patient is showing remarkable recovery and was discharged after only three days. We are following up with her condition regularly and she is scheduled to receive adjunctive treatment in the form of radiotherapy or chemotherapy to ensure full remission of the cancer”.

Tobacco Chewing

Tobacco chewing is particularly common amongst Asian cultures, but has long been associated with oral cancers, which are ultimately avoidable. “Great patient awareness needs to be brought to the problem of tobacco chewing, especially amongst cultures where this is deep engrained” said Professor Al Sukhun.

Although smokeless tobacco products may be perceived safer than cigarettes, they are closely linked with oral, pancreatic and esophageal cancer. Moreover, evidence suggests some forms of smokeless tobacco can increase heart rate and blood pressure, meaning patients risk of heart disease and stroke are raised.1 Chewing tobacco also increases patients’ risk of developing precancerous mouth lesions which are small white patches called leukoplakia which could eventually develop into cancer.

Dr. Jehad Al Sukhun

“This patient case study also underlines the importance of correct, timely diagnosis of carcinomas to ensure optimal outcomes for the patient” explained Profession Al Sukhun. “Such accurate diagnosis early on in the diseases is only able if there is continued innovation in the field of oncology diagnostics and treatment”.