Torbay Hospital becomes the first NHS Trust to provide robot surgery for some cancers
Torbay Hospital has become the first in the country to provide robotic surgery for throat and mouth cancers.
This innovative surgery was made possible by a generous donation from the Hospital’s League of Friends and means a less invasive procedure for patients, with a quicker recovery time and fewer side effects.
The League of Friends donated almost £175,000 to buy the extra equipment required to perform the Trans Oral Robotic Surgery, adding to the list of procedures the Trust is already performing using its existing £1.5m da Vinci Si Robot, which was funded by the League of Friends in 2009.
TORS allows surgeons to remove cancers of the tonsil, back of the tongue and upper larynx (voice box) that may not otherwise have been removable without extensive major surgery or a long course of chemotherapy and radiotherapy. The side effects of radiotherapy and chemotherapy are pain, long term swallowing problems and possible secondary cancer due to the radiotherapy. The incidence of these types of cancer is rising throughout the country and in a younger population.
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The new robotic equipment also means that Torbay Hospital is able to perform tongue base reduction surgery for those suffering with obstructive sleep apnoea, which is another major problem nationally.
The Trust performed it first case using TORS on 11th December 2012 and has carried out five procedures to date including the complex removal of a large cyst in the throat which otherwise would only have been possible with major open surgery.
The Peninsula Health Technology Commissioning Group has approved Torbay Hospital to provide this service for the South West Peninsula, and the Trust expects to take referrals from all other hospitals in the Peninsula, including Royal Devon & Exeter, Royal Cornwall, Derriford, North Devon and Taunton.
The Trust already has close links with the USA, Germany and Italy in respect of this type of surgery and would expect to have close co-operation with other hospitals in the UK once these hospitals start providing the service.
Philip Reece, ENT/Head & Neck surgeon at Torbay Hospital, said: "The funding of Trans Oral Robotic Surgery in Torbay by the League of Friends has made it possible for the department to offer a potentially lifesaving treatment that also gives an improved quality of life, a treatment which is not available anywhere else in the National Health Service.
“The difference it could make to patients is enormous, meaning a greatly reduced course of radiotherapy and chemotherapy and its associated side effects, or possibly no radiotherapy or chemotherapy at all. It can also enable a much quicker return to a normal life after treatment. We cannot thank the League enough for this generous donation."
League of Friends Chair, Georges Adroit, said: “Having robotic surgery available on the NHS for throat and mouth cancers is a huge breakthrough for patients’ quality of life following surgery.
“My thanks go out to everyone who supports the League with fundraising, donations and legacies, all of which have contributed to the funding of this life changing equipment.”
Dr Vinod Joshi, Founder of the Mouth Cancer Foundation added: “Future patients will benefit greatly from having robotic surgery available on the NHS at Torbay Hospital. Robotic surgery means a speedier post-operative recovery and improved quality of life, and the charity welcomes any measures which make life easier for the patient.”
This latest first for the Trust follows on from a world first in May 2012 when the world’s first day case nephroureterectomy was carried out at Torbay Hospital. In addition to the Trans Oral surgery, the Hospital also uses the Da Vinci Si Robot for urology, gynaecological and colorectal surgery.