Operations to remove cancerous tumours are difficult because it is vital to remove everything; just one cell left behind can form a new cancer.
In the UK, doctors are testing a new operating robot which removes cancers. They hope that using this technique will mean a better experience for the patient, less recurring cancer and therefore improved recovery times.
David Jayne, a consultant colorectal surgeon, said: “We’ve got to think long term, we’ve got to take the cancer out in its entirety and we don’t want the disease coming back and it’s hoped that the accuracy and the use of the robot will actually help us to remove these cancers.”
They take pictures during the operation. The pictures are then blown up to 50 million pixels, to check whether the surgeon has left a sufficient safety margin when removing the cancer.
The operating robot is expensive, but the cost is offset by savings on repeated operations and expensive drug treatments.
Professor Phil Quirke, a pathologist at the University of Leeds, explained: “Ninety percent of those patients will die. They will die, it will take a long time and it will cost a large amount of money. There are estimates that it can cost up to a £100,000 (114,000 euros) per patient if you have these local recurrences. So reducing these recurrences by optimum surgery is a really important thing.”
Tests on the robot have already started.
Bowel cancer patient Chris Garbett was one of those operating on: “It certainly aided my recovery. I think I spent less time in hospital. I was up and about within a week of the operation.”
The study will eventually involve 400 patients in centres around the world.