Cancer patient who needed tongue removed to fight disease has new one made from arm
18th February 2019

Grandmother Joanna Smith, 58, was diagnosed with cancer of the tongue and was warned unless it was removed she would be dead within months.

So surgeons removed her tongue and made a new one using skin, muscle and a vein from her left arm.

Joanna was able to talk as soon as she came round and can now eat and drink unaided. She has no taste buds on the new tongue and must take care not to bite it.

But she is cancer free and expected to make a full recovery. Joanna, of Clap-ham, Beds, said: “It’s a bit weird. I look at my arm and I can see where my tongue has come from. I can’t stick my tongue out and I can’t say it really feels like a tongue. It feels a bit surreal.

“Before I had it done I was thinking to myself, ‘How it that going to work?’

“But now I’ve had it I’m like ‘Wow!’ It just shows what can be done. I can taste everything I used to but on the roof of my mouth, not my tongue.”

Joanna, a cleaner, was diagnosed with cancer after a tiny ulcer on her tongue refused to clear up — and then started to grow.

The operation took ten hours and involved 29 ­medics. Joanna said: “The hospital has been fantastic.”

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