Dr. Douglas Villaret on WCNC Charlotte Today discussing HPV and robotic surgery

CEENTA head and neck cancer surgeon Douglas Villaret, MD, appeared on WCNC's Charlotte Today on May 24, 2023 to discuss HPV, HPV-related oropharyngeal cancer. and treatment with robotic surgery. Learn more about this condition and schedule your next consultation with Dr. Villaret at our Pineville office by calling 704-295-3000.

Transcript of the Interview

Mia Atkins: This morning in our health spotlight, we're joined by Dr Douglas Villaret, head and neck cancer surgeon with CEENTA, talking about a virus that many may have heard of but may not realize how it can impact a person's health. Thank you so much for being here with us today.

Dr. Douglas Villaret: Absolutely, my pleasure.

Mia: Yeah, so what is HPV and its relation to throat cancer?

Dr. Villaret: So, HPV is a sexually transmitted virus that 80 to 90 percent of Americans have in their body. We've all been exposed to it. The numbers are somewhat astounding that at any one time 40 million Americans will be positive for HPV, and there's about 15 million per year that that get exposed and get the virus. The virus sits in the body for anywhere from ten to thirty years and can create cancer during that time. It can create cancers.

We first knew about it from cervical cancer in women, but we're also finding it in other locations such as in the tonsils or the oropharynx. And there it sets up in the tonsillar tissue, either the tongue base or in the tonsil itself, and like I said, ten to thirty years later it becomes a cancer that we need to deal with.

Mia: So, what are some of the symptoms related to HPV oropharyngeal cancer?

Dr. Villaret: When it gets big, you can feel a lump in your throat that never quite goes away every time you swallow. You can feel a lump more commonly. We notice a lump in the neck when it metastasizes from the tonsillar base of tongue into the neck. That's where we pick up most of these.

Mia: Okay, and I see these robotic arm things that you've brought here with us.

Dr. Villaret: So robotic surgery is being used to treat this, right. There's two main treatments. One is chemotherapy with radiation, and that's good for larger cancers but when they're smaller cancers and we feel we get all the way around them, we like to bring the robot in, and we get into really tight nooks and crannies. And we use these arms positioned on the robot and it allows us to go through the mouth and work with dexterity that we just can't do with human hands. And we get further down, we can get complete resections of the cancer and the patients do, we think, a lot better by removing it with surgery when they're smaller than with blasting them with radiation.

Mia: And that's just so incredible that treatment has advanced to be able to do something like that. So who are the ideal candidates to get the treatment done by, you know, robotic surgery?

Dr. Villaret: Yeah, it's somebody who has a known cancer that's small enough for us to remove without creating trouble with swallowing. So, the bigger it gets, the more the tongue base we remove, the more the tonsil we remove. They might have swallowing issues that last for months and years sometimes, but if we can catch it when it's earlier, when it's smaller, then they are good candidates for robotic surgery.

Mia: Well, CEENTA is the stop to make if you're looking to get treatment for this, and CEENTA has many locations, but you're at the Pineville location I believe. So, tell me more about that location.

Dr. Villaret: Yeah, so we just moved about a year ago. We built a new office, it's near the Pineville Mall near the Home Depot down there. And we really like it because it's brand new, squeaky clean, and it's a good spot we think.

Mia: Well, thank you so much for sharing this information today, we appreciate it.

Dr. Villaret: Absolutely, thank you.


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