How pioneering robotic surgery at Cambridge's Addenbrooke's Hospital has cut cancer recovery times

Credit: ITV Anglia

Surgical robots used to treat prostate cancer at Addenbrooke's Hospital in Cambridge have drastically reduced recovery times.

Patients usually stay in hospital for up to five days after open surgery but can now go home the next day.

A surgeon operates the robot by making small cuts to remove cancerous tissue - a process which is less invasive, and with less blood loss and pain, meaning patients recover more quickly.

Doctors at the hospital say the shorter waiting times mean bed space is freed up so more people can be treated.

Dr Ben Lamb is a consultant surgeon at CUH and is part of the robotic prostatectomy daysurgery team.

He said: “I sit at a control panel in the operating room and guide the robotic arms holding the surgical instruments. The robot gives me a high level of manoeuvrability and precision so I can target the cancerous areas without having to open up the abdomen.

"This really benefits the patient and speeds up their recovery but it also means I can treat more people, as they need less time in hospital.”

After the operation, patients are cared for on the day surgery unit by speciallytrained nursing staff so they are ready to be discharged by the next morning to continue their recovery at home.

CUH day surgery operations manager Graham Johnston said: “For patients to be going home the next day after a major operation is a huge team effort.

"While the robot is vital in achieving this, so is the skill and dedication of the team. Thisincludes working really closely with patients before and after their surgery, to give them thesupport they need, extra training for the nursing staff and building on the outstanding skills of our surgical team.”

Alistair Forsyth, 64, from Peterborough had a robotic prostatectomy at the hospital on 22 July. He was recently diagnosed with prostate cancer and opted for surgery.

He said: “Knowing I would be home the next day made a real difference to me when I was weighing up my treatment options.

"I want to be free of cancer and get back to work and my normal life as soon as possible. Not having to stay in hospital for several days also means someone else can use that bed space and they can have their operation too.”Now a week after his operation, Mr Forsyth is due back at CUH to have acheck up and his catheter removed.

The Da Vinci robot is used to carry out a number of other operations at CUH and was donated to the hospital by the Addenbrooke’s Charitable Trust (ACT).

ACT is currently raising funds to buy another robot. The £1.5 million appeal was launched in April last year and has already raised £1.36m through donations and pledges, leaving just £142,000 to reach the target.

Claire Billing, ACT director of fundraising, said: “Another robot would enable even greater progress in world class surgery right here in Cambridge, reducing waiting times and speeding up recovery for patients."

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