A pair of identical twins both diagnosed with cancer have undergone robotic surgery on the same day.
Stephen Hill and his brother, Alan Hill, who is ten minutes his junior, were diagnosed with prostate cancer within weeks of each other.
Royal Surrey surgeons used pioneering robotic technology to perform the procedure, which is known as a radical prostatectomy, on the same day.
“It was quite a shock when I received the news and then shortly after we learnt that Alan had it as well, said bricklayer Stephen.
“From us both receiving the diagnosis, everything has happened extremely quickly.
“It was a little bit nerve-wracking ahead of surgery, but there was something strangely quite reassuring about going through it together.”
Stephen from Crawley, West Sussex, knew he was at increased risk of getting prostate cancer after his father, Frank, suffered with the disease.
The father-of-three asked his GP for a Prostate-Specific Antigen (PSA) test, before undergoing an MRI scan and biopsy, which confirmed cancer.
The news led to his twin, Alan, a father of six, getting tested, along with older siblings Paul and David.
Only Stephen and Alan, who are mirror identical, received a cancer diagnosis.
Alan, a heating engineer from Ashford, Kent, who received his diagnosis four weeks after his twin, said: “It was a massive shock to find out about Stephen’s diagnosis but I feel lucky in a way because if he hadn’t had the PSA test, neither of us would have known we had cancer. He’s been the guinea pig, going through all the tests before me so I know what’s coming next.
“The thing is the cancer’s been picked up now before it’s spread so it’s curable and we can both hopefully make a full recovery. Things could be worse, without a doubt.”
The prostate is a small gland, about the size of a walnut, in the pelvis and is part of the male reproductive system.
Neither of the brothers had any symptoms prior to their diagnosis, which is common as prostate cancer usually develops slowly over many years.
For the surgery, the light-hearted pair arrived at Royal Surrey wearing T-shirts emblazoned with ‘twin one’ and ‘twin two.’
Consultant Urological Surgeon, Wissam Abou Chedid, who performed surgery on the brothers, said: “The causes of prostate cancer are largely unknown, although certain things can increase the risk of a patient developing the condition.
“You are two and a half times more likely to get prostate cancer if your father or brother has had it, compared to a man who has no relatives with the illness.
“Although it can run in families, having a family member with prostate cancer does not necessarily mean that you will get it. However, I would advise you to speak to your GP if you have a relative with prostate cancer, ovarian or breast cancer as your risk may be higher.”
Royal Surrey is one of the only single-site NHS Trusts in the UK to have four cutting-edge robots, with three dedicated to performing surgery and one to help with training.
The state-of-the-art machines allow surgeons to use a control console to manoeuvre the robots’ arms, whilst using a minimally invasive approach, also known as keyhole surgery.
As a result, patients benefit from a shorter hospital stay, quicker recovery, reduced blood loss and discomfort post-surgery and much more.