Mouth Health: Man left with half a face after aggressive cancer ravaged his features is undergoing drastic reconstruction ops (VIDEO)


A man who was left with half a face after being ravaged by cancer had his face rebuilt Terminator-style by a genius surgeon. Tim McGrath, 38, was diagnosed with Synovial Sarcoma an extremely rare form of soft tissue cancer – leaving him with a MELON-sized tumour growing on his face. Medics managed to cut out the cancerous tumour, but his body rejected multiple attempts to rebuild his face.

A man left with half a face after his features were ravaged by an aggressive cancer has undergone a life-changing op.

Tim McGrath, 38, was diagnosed with synovial sarcoma – an extremely rare form of soft tissue cancer.

It caused a huge, grapefruit-sized tumour to grow on his jaw.

Medics managed to cut out the cancerous mass, but his body rejected multiple attempts to rebuild it.

Now, after a year of living with exposed flesh, top surgeon Dr Kongkrit Chaiyaste heard about Tim’s plight, and agreed to help.

Using skin from his leg and forearm he performed an incredible op to begin rebuilding the features on the left side of Tim’s face.

Tim, a keen golfer, said the reconstruction work on his face is expected to continue into next year.

Tim, from Michigan, USA, said: “After the operation to remove the tumour I was heartbroken, I didn’t realise that half of my face would be taken away and it wasn’t until I went to Dr Chaiyasate that I start to feel real hope again.

“I was covered in scars from previous surgeries which limited my options for reconstruction but we went ahead and the outcome has been incredible.

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“He reconstructed my face using skin and muscle from my left leg, left forearm, and a flap from my forehead, and skin grafts were used to help the healing process.

“I currently can’t drink liquid, eat through my mouth, or pronounce certain words, however my quality of life has improved massively.

“As well as removing part of my face and bone structure, they had removed most of the muscle in my back, they had taken a rib, and they took part of my scapula and part of my shoulder too, said Tim McGrath”

“There are people who stare at me, mostly children who don’t understand, but I would hope that others look past what they can see.

“My journey has been long and mostly inconceivable to most, but I have an amazing support group around me and I draw strength from them daily.

“I have been through something horrific, but if what I’ve gone through can inspire people to live their lives with gratitude for the things they take for granted than it makes what I’ve gone through all worth it.”

Tim was first diagnosed with synovial sarcoma, a soft tissue cancer, in February 2014 after complaining of severe jaw pain.

An MRI revealed an egg-sized tumour however Tim turned down surgery and spent the following 18 months seeking non-surgical alternatives.

Unfortunately synovial sarcoma is resistant to many things, including chemotherapy, and the tumour continued to grow.

He added: “At the end of May 2015 the tumour doubled in size and I had to have a tracheotomy fitted to enable me to breathe and a feeding tube so I could eat, because the tumour had invaded the space in my mouth.

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“Heavy doses of radiation caused the tumour to start dying and shrink and parts started to fall off, eventually I got my mouth back and I could eat very thin pieces of food.

“After the tumour shrank and the radiation treatment was over I had to wait a few weeks before they could remove the remaining mass.”

If what I’ve gone through can inspire people to live their lives with gratitude for the things they take for granted than it makes what I’ve gone through all worth it

Tim McGrath

The full reconstruction of Tim’s face will continue next year, giving his body time to recover from his recent ops

Other facts:

Every year, worldwide, more than 500,000 patients receive the diagnosis of squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) of the head and neck. Squamous carcinoma develops in the outer layers of the skin. Due to the various oral sites at which it may develop, the symptoms can include sore throat (pharyngitis), difficulty swallowing (dysphagia), painful swallowing (odynophagia), and hoarseness. These symptoms are especially significant if they do not resolve completely within ten to fourteen days, and should be evaluated by a dentist or physician. Sometimes early lesions may not be accompanied by any symptoms at all.

Other clinical findings include a report of continuous enlargement of the lesion. SCC is more common in males in the United States. Females from Asia/ India have a higher incidence of leukoplakia (white lesions) developing into SCC. When present, pain can be localized or referred, often to the ear. A tingling sensation or numbness (paresthesia) in the lower lip may also be present. Bleeding may occur, and a fissure may develop, which does not heal. This is especially true on the lips.

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Early diagnosis is essential!

Early diagnosis is essential for a positive outcome. Due to the nature of oral mucosa, benign and malignant tissues can be difficult to tell apart until later stages. Because of this dilemma, 50% of patients have evidence of lymph node metastasis at the time of diagnosis—greatly worsening the prognosis. Early detection has improved in recent years through the use of various tests that can improve a dentist’s ability to visualize abnormal tissues.