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UT Health professor undergoes innovative procedure to cure him of rare cancer | Wear the Gown

Dr. David Miramontes contracted a rare form of cancer three years ago.

SAN ANTONIO — A UT Health associate clinical professor became a patient, undergoing an innovative procedure to cure him from a rare type of cancer.

Dr. David Miramontes is also the medical director for the San Antonio Fire Department. When he started coughing up blood three years ago, he knew something was terribly wrong. 

He told us, "I see patients like that in the E.R. and I'm going, 'Oh boy, is this something big? I got a blood clot. I got an abscess. I got an infection. Or I have cancer, right?'"  

This type of cancer is laryngeal chondrosarcoma. In most cases, the entire larynx, your voice box, needs to be removed. 

As a teaching physician, that news was devastating. He would never be able to talk again. Dr. Miramontes said, "We went to M.D. Anderson and they said, 'Oh, we'll do the laryngectomy. We'll take everything out. We'll do it next week.' And we're like, 'Time out!'" 

Eventually, a colleague directed him to Dr. Mark Courey from the Mount Sinai Health System in New York City. That's where he found out he wouldn't have to live with a trach for the rest of life, and his voice would stay too. 

Dr. Mark Courey from the Mt. Sinai Health System added, "I've had a colleague help me who can wrap the rib graft in a piece of vascularized tissue that they get from the thigh of the patient. And when you wrap the grip, the rib graft in that vascularized tissue, the rib survives and you can use it to reconstruct the support for the back part of the larynx."  

Some of the main symptoms of laryngeal cancer include a change in your voice, such as sounding hoarse, pain or difficulty swallowing, a lump or swelling in your neck, a long-lasting cough, and in severe cases, difficulty breathing.

Several procedures and three years later, Dr. Miramontes is cancer free. And he has that second chance to do what he loves. 

Dr. Miramontes said, "My type of cancer let me do something very innovative, something very weird, and let me go back to work. And it's just a blessing that I'm able to do that in more ways than one."  

For more information on family health call 210-358-3045. You can also find the rest of our Wear The gown stories here.

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