Diagnosed with oral cancer two years back, Induben Soni (58) from Bhavnagar was sure of being cured through surgery, she was concerned about life post surgery. “The prospect of removing upper jaw through surgery was hard to accept as it would have deformed my face and caused speech problems,” said Induben who was accompanied by her husband and daughter.
Luckily for Induben and several other patients, a team of an oncologist and a reconstructive surgeon from Ahmedabad practicing in a private cancer care centre, developed an innovative technique by using Polymethyl Methacrylate (PMMA) based cement for cosmetic correction of depression in the scalp resulting from surgery of the jaw in oral cancer patients. With Ahmedabad topping the list of cities with oral cancer, accounting for over 16 per cent of patients across the country, the technique assumes more significance.
The technique has already been published in an international journal — Journal of Reconstructive Microsurgery. The team claims this technique is the first in the world to have evoked interest from others countries as well and has received several enquiries from health experts abroad.
Elaborating on the process, reconstructive surgeon Dr Dushyant Mandlik, said, “The deformity at the upper jaw and the donor site (one of the temporal regions from where the tissue is replaced in the mouth) that develops due to the removal of cancer cells is filled with bone cement, that is also used in knee replacement.”
The material is said to be cheap and can remain inert inside a human body. It can be even exposed to radiation. So far, the team of doctors have treated nearly 40 patients starting from 2005.
For the journal, 25 patients (17 males and 8 females) treated over 2005-2009 were studied for a period of five years.
“Getting this published in a renowned journal is a big achievement as not many Indian doctors have been able to do that. It took us six months to convince the research team from the journal,” said Dr Kaustubh Patel who had confirmed that they would soon apply for copyright of the technique.
Dr Kaustubh said that the idea of using PMMA-based cement as a replacement, for other expensive materials like silicon, came about quit by chance.
“One day one of the knee surgeons showed up for a casual meeting at the hospital. During a case discussion, the idea of using PMMA in our surgeries was suggested,” Dr Kaustubh further said.
The doctors shared that the only drawback of using the material was that it takes only seven minutes for it to solidify when mixed into a paste. This leaves a very short window for sculpting during reconstructive surgery.