KKR Hospital Celebrates 22-Year Survival of Throat Cancer Patient Treated with Pioneering Surgery back in 2002


Chennai, May 27, 2024 – KKR ENT Hospital and Research Institute is proud to share a remarkable milestone in the journey of cancer treatment and recovery. A patient diagnosed with extensive throat cancer in 2002 has not only survived for over 22 years but continues to lead a vibrant life, speaking and working as a teacher in Andhra Pradesh.

In 2002, Mr. Ponade Tejeswar Rao, then 27 years old, was diagnosed with extensive cancer of the hypopharynx, a region situated behind the voice box. Due to the advanced stage of his cancer, traditional treatments such as radiotherapy and chemotherapy were ineffective. Dr. K.K. Ramalingam, along with a dedicated team of surgeons, performed a procedure known as total laryngopharyngo-esophagectomy with gastric pull-up, a first in South India at that time.

The hypopharynx, located behind the voice box, plays a crucial role in directing food to the esophagus. The extensive nature of Mr. Rao’s cancer required the removal of his voice box and the creation of a new food passage. This complex surgery involved two surgical teams: a Neck Surgery team for the neck and upper chest and an Abdomen Surgery team for the abdomen and lower thorax. The procedure lasted about five hours.

Dr. K.K. Ramalingam led the neck and upper chest surgery, with thoracic surgeons Dr. Gouri Shanker, Dr. Rajan Senthesom, Dr. Raja Sundaram, and Dr. Joseph Dirairum handling the abdominal aspects. The innovative approach utilized the stomach, which was repositioned to function in the neck area, helping in both swallowing and breathing functions.

Remarkably, Mr. Rao has thrived post-surgery, developing a strong gastric voice, a method of speech where the stomach aids in sound production. He returned to his teaching profession, continuing to inspire students and colleagues with his resilience and dedication. His case stands out as the longest survival of over 22 years for such an advanced and complex cancer treatment.

Dr. K.K. Ramalingam’s introduction of this surgical technique in South India has paved the way for numerous successful outcomes in similar cases. He says, “The gastric pull-up method remains a common and effective reconstructive option for patients undergoing total laryngopharyngo-esophagectomy, offering hope and quality of life to many facing this severe diagnosis. I extend my deepest gratitude to Mr. Rao and his family for their trust and courage throughout this journey. His story gives hope to many facing similar battles, proving that with innovation, dedication, and a positive spirit, we can overcome even the most daunting medical challenges.”

Mr. Rao’s survival and ongoing success story highlight the advancements in cancer treatment and the importance of innovative surgical techniques. His ability to speak and teach, functions that were once thought to be impossible post-surgery, showcases the exceptional skill and dedication of the medical teams involved