LIFESTYLE

Man With Cancer Has Part Of Mouth And Tongue Rebuilt From His Arm Tissue After Tumour Removed

08/07/2015 12:19 BST | Updated 08/07/2015 12:59 BST

After being diagnosed with advanced mouth cancer, David Barwell needed to have a tumour the size of a plum removed from his throat.

Surgeons were forced to cut away the bottom of his mouth and tongue to complete the procedure and Barwell feared he would never be able to talk again.

But surgeons have now rebuilt his entire oral cavity, using tissue from his arm.

david barwell

British-born Barwell was living with his wife Barbara in Poland when he began to feel ill in October of last year.

He says his illness was initially misdiagnosed as an infection by doctors in both Poland and Spain and he was prescribed antibiotics to tackle his symptoms.

But after losing almost four stone in less than three months, Barwell revisited doctors in Poland in March and was diagnosed with mouth cancer.

He and his wife travelled across Europe in a campervan to get back to Britain for treatment.

After NHS surgeons removed Barwell's cancerous tumour, they completed a further 15-hour operation to rebuild the oral cavity and re-model his tongue using skin and blood vessels from his arm.

david barwell

Barwell is currently in recovery. He is unable to speak properly and is being fed through a tube into his stomach, but doctors are hopeful the operation will enable him to eat, drink and one day speak again.

"We just want to take one day at a time and build a new life and start again. It will be different but we just have to hope that the cancer in his mouth will be totally gone and won't come back," Mrs Barwell said, according to the MailOnline.

"David writes me a note every day saying he loves me and thanking me for my devotion to him. We are so happy together and I am so thankful to the staff."

According to the NHS, around 6,767 new cases of mouth cancer were diagnosed in 2011, meaning the disease accounts for around one in 50 of all cancer cases.

Most cases of mouth cancer first develop in adults who are between the ages of 50-74 and the disease is more common in men than women.

The most common symptoms are a red or white patches in the mouth or throat or an unexplained lump.

Other warning signs include persistent pain in the mouth, pain or difficulty when swallowing, changes in your voice, or speech problems, swollen glands in your neck and unexplained weight loss.

Mrs Barwell is now calling for people to be more aware of the symptoms of mouth cancer and to be persistent with doctors so they get the treatment they need.

She said: "I want people to be more forceful, and not just sit back and take antibiotics and ignore it. If it's worrying you should see a doctor. They need to be aware of what is wrong with them and look after themselves."

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