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Head and neck cancer: Early detection improved patient’s outcome

IU Health North Hospital

Head and neck cancer: Early detection improved patient’s outcome

Jason Sapp believes in what he calls “angel numbers.” A quick internet search shows that 11/11 is one of these numbers, believed to be a sign that angels are supporting you. Sapp’s next appointment at the IU Health Joe & Shelly Schwarz Cancer Center in Carmel will show if his cancer is gone. That appointment is on Nov. 11, or 11/11.

Sapp discovered what felt like a lump in his throat and neck in April 2021. He first sought treatment at a non-IU Health location, where he was told it was benign. However, after seeking a second opinion, he found out it was cancer, specifically HPV-related oropharyngeal squamous cell carcinoma.

That brought him to the IU Health Schwarz Cancer Center. He met Dr. Michael Sim, who specializes in head and neck oncology and microvascular reconstruction.

“Dr. Sim, he’s a great guy. He’s very straight forward with everything,” Sapp said.

Dr. Sim provided Sapp with two treatment options: transoral robotic surgery or chemotherapy and radiation. Sapp immediately chose surgery to remove the mass, which happened on Sept. 29, 2021 at IU Health North Hospital.

After months of recovery, Sapp is doing well.

“I’m doing great actually. I’m back at work,” he said. “I have no doubt if I waited any longer, it would have spread.”

Dr. Sim agrees, urging others to get checked out.

“Significant delay could have resulted in lower disease control and cure rate,” Dr. Sim explained. “I understand the apprehension, but it provides you the reassurance you need to help us find a problem early on that may improve your outcomes. Either way, it’ll be well worth your time.”

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