Consultants at Royal Surrey are marking 10 years of pioneering robotic surgery for the treatment of bladder cancer.
Bladder cancer occurs when abnormal tissue develops in the bladder lining. It is the 11th most common cancer in the UK, affecting 10,000 people each year, 3,500 of whom will need surgery for a cystectomy (full bladder removal).
Since 2013, over 700 patients have been treated with this innovative surgery under the expert care of; Matthew Perry, Krishna Patil, Michael Swinn, Simon Woodhams, Murthy Kusuma, Dimitrios Moschonas. Both the consulting team, and patients, have been supported throughout by Alison Roodhouse, Cystectomy/Bladder Nurse Specialist.
Crucial to the success of this service in the early days, was the support from Royal Surrey’s management team, who were considered trailblazers for being one of just a handful of centres in the UK choosing to spearhead robotic cystectomies.
The investment has paid off, with a significant reduction in surgery and recovery times for patients, and the team’s knowledge has become a blueprint for other Trusts in the UK and overseas.
Having started the cystectomy service at St George’s University Hospitals NHS Trust in 2010, Matthew Perry first came to Royal Surrey on secondment in 2013 to work with Krishna Patil on setting up the cystectomy service here. He then joined the Trust permanently in 2016 as Consultant Urological Surgeon and Clinical Director for Urology.
Reflecting on the success of the last 10 years, Matthew said: “The belief, forward thinking and investment in staff from Royal Surrey’s management 10 years ago, was ahead of its time. They were on the crest of a wave, instead of being behind the crest of a wave.
“The average length of stay for a patient back then was two weeks. Bringing it down to five days was a dramatic saving both for patients and for the NHS.”
Royal Surrey is one of the only single site NHS Trusts in the UK to have three cutting-edge robots, allowing surgeons to use a minimally invasive approach, known as keyhole surgery.
Patients have a choice of two main reconstructive techniques in their bladder cancer treatment, with 93% of people opting for a stoma bag, and others having a neo-bladder created for them using tissue from the gut.
Before the introduction of robots, patients would have undergone full open surgery to have their bladder removed. Now, they benefit from a shorter hospital stay, quicker recovery, reduced blood loss and discomfort post-surgery and much more.
Robotic technology is constantly evolving, and continues to impact patient success rates, with many more people living active and fulfilling lives thanks to this advanced surgical approach.
May is Bladder Cancer Awareness Month and anyone who experiences the main symptom of blood in their urine is urged to get themselves checked.