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P.E.I. native Dr. Mark Taylor recently received Cancer Care Nova Scotia's Excellence Award for his pioneer work in treating head and neck cancer.
Dr. Mark Taylor, a native of Cornwall, P.E.I., has been lauded for his pioneer work in head and neck cancer treatment.
Taylor, who works in Halifax at the QEII Health Sciences Centre, received one of Cancer Care Nova Scotia’s annual Excellence Awards in June for his work in the treatment of cancer patients.
Taylor established transoral laser microsurgery as a standard of care for early stage larynx cancers. Research confirmed that patients having minimally invasive surgery experienced improved overall results and fewer side effects than radiation therapy.
Taylor raised funds for specialized equipment and trained fellow head and neck surgeons in the new technique. The comprehensive program he developed has chanced how laryngeal cancer is treated in the Maritimes.
Taylor is touched by the accolade.
“It’s great,’’ he says.
“It’s always nice to be acknowledged by your colleagues for the work you do.’’
Taylor has done numerous laser surgeries since 2001 to treat head and neck cancer. He estimates 30 to 40 per cent of his cancer surgeries are done on people from P.E.I.
He spends about one day a month at the Cancer Treatment Centre in Charlottetown but performs surgery in Halifax.
He has been pleased with the results over the years.
“You know the patients do really well,’’ he says.
“It’s been a very satisfying thing to get into ... the great thing about it (laser surgery) is it is done in a minimally invasive fashion.’’
Taylor works to build a comfortable and comforting relationship with his patients. In training students in how to do head and neck surgery, he also passes on advice on the importance of being personable when interacting with patients.
“I guess just to be honest with people and to be open,’’ he says.
“People are pretty tense when they come in and they are very upset about things. If you can just talk at their level and let them know what is going on.’’
Taylor received his Excellence Award from Cancer Care Nova Scotia alongside a tobacco control advocate, a volunteer group that supports cancer patients and families financially and emotionally, and a palliative care nurse who enhances quality of life for patients and families.
Dr. Carman Giacomantonio, chief medical director, Cancer Care Nova Scotia, says this year’s award recipients represent the many talented and dedicated health professionals and volunteers in Nova Scotia’s cancer system.
“Cancer patients and families are at the heart of why we do what we do,’’ he says.
“Routinely, teams meet to discuss issues and ways to improve treatment and care, but rarely do we stop to celebrate our successes.’’