Giving men their lives back after prostate cancer - UCLH becomes UK’s largest robotic surgery centre 

24/11/2017 00:00 
Surgeons at UCLH have reached a significant milestone this #Movember – for the first time in a single year, the team will perform over 500 prostatectomy procedures using robotic equipment. 

This makes UCLH the largest centre in the UK and one of the largest centres in Europe, as well as a centre for complex surgery. This is enabling more men, like patients Jeff (see below) and David (see link here) to live normal, fully functioning lives beyond prostate cancer.

Prostatectomy (the removal of the prostate) is used to treat prostate cancer. Robotic surgery has been a game changer for this procedure, as Prof John Kelly, consultant urology surgeon and clinical lead explained, “Conventional prostatectomy is a major procedure taking three to four hours and involving a two to three night stay in hospital and a lengthy recovery. Although surgery removes the cancerous tumour, patients are left with life changing after effects like incontinence and impotence which can be devastating.

“Robotic surgery has changed that – it gives us the precision to remove the cancerous tumour preserving the tissues and functions around it. It’s given men their lives back after prostate cancer”. As robotic surgery is minimally invasive, patients can expect to leave hospital the day after their surgery and be back to their day-to-day lives in two weeks.

Establishing a high volume centre means better outcomes for patients – results from surgeons working in centres that treat more patients are very good compared to national averages. Prof Kelly added, “There’s good evidence from centres across Europe that very large specialist surgery centres are the way forward - in London it makes sense to have a “super centre” for prostate surgery. Reaching our 500th prostatectomy in a year for the first time is a significant step”.

Jeff Melsom from Brentwood in Essex was diagnosed with prostate cancer in May this year at the age of 72. He was advised by his medical team at Barking, Havering and Redbridge Hospitals NHS Trust that a radical prostatectomy to remove his prostate would be the best course of action given the stage of his tumour.

Jeff said: “I had my radical prostatectomy in August at UCLH and my recovery so far has been excellent. My doctors are really pleased with how I am doing and I have been able to get back to my normal routines pretty quickly. I was really pleased to have access to this new robotic surgery at a hospital that has so much expertise in this type of treatment. I found it very reassuring to be treated by experts and didn’t mind travelling a little bit further into London for my operation.”

More patients like Jeff are able to have robotic surgery after a change in the way some cancer services are provided in north central and east London and parts of Essex in 2015. This reconfiguration, led by the hospitals and clinicians that comprise London Cancer, shares resources and expertise across the region. Patients go to their local hospital for diagnosis, come to UCLH for specialist surgery before returning to their local hospital for follow up treatment. Prof Kelly added, “This re-organisation of services means more patients have access to state-of-the-art robotic surgery and the benefits is brings and has enabled us to expand and improve our service. We are now an internationally renowned centre for robotic surgery and train clinicians from all over the world. Our growing expertise means that we can treat the most complex cases and that outcomes for patients are getting better and better” 

See article in Evening Standard, 24 November 2017


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