Mimi Murphy's Medical Breakthroughs: Reconstruction After Cancer

Medical Breakthroughs
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Sometimes a patient needs more than one doctor to treat a disease or condition. Now, see how cancer patients are benefiting from a new team-based approach that includes doctors with a range of specialties. Though they come from different backgrounds, they have one common goal: saving patients.

Three years ago, otolaryngologist Peter Costantino, M.D., found a rare and often fatal tumor in Angela Carrozza's nasal cavity and right eye socket.

"In the past these tumors either weren't treated or they were treated and the patients were left with pretty deforming or devastating problems," said Dr. Costantino, of St. Luke's Roosevelt Medical Center in New York.

Dr. Costantino is part of a team of surgeons, each with their own specialty, working together to treat these tumors with minimal scarring, at the same time diminishing the risk of infection.

"Once we make this incision we can actually take the tissues of the forehead and scalp, turn it down all the way down to the nose, exposing the skull," Dr. Costantino said.

Neuro-anesthesiologists, neurosurgeons, head and neck surgeons and reconstructive surgeons work together to remove the tumor then reconstruct the patient's skull and face.

"If the patient doesn't get hooked up with a team that really does this, they can pay for it with their appearance, their function, recurrence of the tumor, or their very lives," said Dr. Costantino.

Today, the only visible sign of Carrozza's surgery is a scar on the top of her head. She says the fact that she still looks the same made recovery easier.

"Emotionally, it just gave me such great hope and faith that yes, I was going to be OK," Carrossa said.

Doctors say Carrozza's prognosis is very good. According to the American Society of Clinical Oncology, nearly 38,000 cases of head and neck cancer were diagnosed in 2002. This type of cancer makes up about three percent of all cancers.

If you would like more information, please contact:

Peter Costantino, M.D.
St. Luke's Roosevelt Hospital
1000 Tenth Avenue, Suite 5G-80
New York, NY 10019
(212) 523-6756