This morning Paul and I met with Dr. Bayles, a head and neck surgeon at Virginia Mason Hospital. Based on his initial review of Paul’s CT scans and MRI, he said that the tumor is at the back of the mouth and base of the tongue, but that it appears not to have spread into the bone (good news!) and that there might be one or two lymph nodes involved, but that none of the lymph nodes looked significantly enlarged. (Paul’s case was reviewed at Virginia Mason’s “tumor board” this afternoon – that’s where the hospital’s surgical, medical and radiation oncologists get together to review cases and discuss disease staging and treatment options – we haven’t heard yet whether they had anything to add to Dr. Bayles’ initial assessment.)
Dr. Bayles spent some time discussing with us the surgical procedure that is used to remove this sort of cancer – it’s a damned scary procedure that involves cutting the jaw bone, skin grafting, and other things that I won’t go into at this time. One of us will write more about the procedure and/or provide links sometime soon, for those who are interested in the gory details. He said that, based on Paul’s cardiology records that he’d seen, he thought that Paul’s heart would be OK for the surgery.
My impression of Dr. Bayles was good – he is confident in his expertise with this type of surgery, but completely willing to suggest a few other folks to whom we might go for a second opinion. So, we’re continuing to explore getting that second opinion, and also looking at possible dates for surgery here, if that’s the route we take.