Our weekly round up of Head and Neck cancer news from New Zealand and around the world. This week an apology to a head and necker who suffered brain damage, the future of robotic surgery, and we can learn from breast cancer about the value of survivorship plans and nurse navigators. 

DHB 'looking to make changes' after man left brain damaged, patient's wife told

3635268822?profile=RESIZE_710xAuckland Hospital staff have apologised to a Dargaville builder left with brain damage after he was given an overdose of morphine.

Members of the hospital's review team, which included head oncologist Dr Richard Sullivan, met Trevor Flood and his wife Kylie last month to discuss the events leading up to the incident and how the couple had coped since. Read more here...


Robotic surgery operating a world away could aid regional patients, but costs still too high


Surgeons in regional areas say robots capable of performing intricate medical procedures could bridge vast distances and benefit regional patients, but the cost of the equipment is too high.

Key points:

  • Robotic surgery was first used in Australia in 2003 for prostate surgery
  • There are about 62 robotic surgery units in Australia, most are in the private sector and in cities
  • A monopoly on the machines is about to end, with more equipment ready to be approved for use


Robots have the potential to reduce waiting lists and increase the number and types of procedures carried out in rural areas.

But a general surgeon in Port Lincoln, South Australia, doubted that robotic surgery would be economical viable in small regional areas.

Read more....

Patient-Specific Survivorship Programs Improve Quality of Life for Patients With Recurrent Breast Cancer

Patients with recurrent breast cancer are faced with a unique set of challenges that often go unaddressed by health care providers. A study presented at the ESMO Congress 2019 in Barcelona, Spain, found that implementing a patient-specific survivorship program significantly improved quality of life for this patient population.

Patients with recurrent breast cancer may experience fluctuations in functional status, changes in relationships, difficulty in communicating with loved ones, and existential concerns. The researchers reasoned that, “Oncology nurse navigators have a unique relationship with their patients and implementing [patient-specific survivorship programs] provides an opportunity to address these important and clinically relevant unmet needs.”

In the study, researchers identified the individual needs of survivors by evaluating their responses to the Functional Assessment of Cancer Therapy–Breast (FACT-B) survey. Each patient then received an individualized hour-long coaching intervention. Immediately after and 2 weeks post the intervention patients experienced statistically significant improvements in each subscale of the FACT-B survey, indicating an overall improvement in their quality of life.

Read more....

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