A life-saving early check

Mike shares his experience of having robotic surgery for bowel cancer.

Don't die of embarassment

Sixty-year-old Mike from Buckinghamshire had been having regular annual health check-ups, but also used the NHS qFIT kit in July.  He received the result very quickly and was told that his screening showed traces of blood.

"I’d been taking health tests every year through my work," Mike says. "I had no symptoms to indicate any health issues, so this came as a huge surprise to me".

Having lost his older brother to bowel cancer at just 58 in 2017, Mike began to worry whether he may also receive the same diagnosis. On the 1st of August, Mike was booked in for a colonoscopy with the NHS when the doctors said they spotted something suspicious.

"I’m a very active man and as I had no signs or symptoms of any health issues so I was starting to get a bit worried," Mike recalls. "I’m a non-smoker and regularly keep fit and eat healthy so I was confused what this could be".

After having multiple scans and tests over the next 20 days, doctors soon discovered that Mike had indeed developed bowel cancer.

Mike's bowel cancer story Mike's bowel cancer story

Robotic surgery benefits

With his wife and family supporting him along the way, Mike was quickly appointed an NHS surgeon and medical team in late August. Mike was told that laparoscopic surgery would be the best option to remove the tumour, but he was interested to see whether robotic surgery could be another option for him.

"I knew about robotics from my work at Johnson & Johnson," he says, "and I’d heard there were a lot of benefits with robotic surgery compared to other types of surgery, so it was something I was really interested in".

After being told robotic surgery was not available to Mike in the NHS Trust he attended, Mike’s wife, Geraldine, began researching other facilities that could – The Wellington Hospital, home to the Colorectal and Robotic Surgery Centre was one of those facilities. Mike contacted his work healthcare service and asked to book in an appointment with Mr Miscovic to discuss how robotic surgery could help him.

"As soon as I met Mr Miskovic, I was blown away," remembers Mike. "I knew he was an expert in robotic surgery, but he also took great care and time to explain my diagnosis, which showed me just how he much he knows about how bowel cancer operates".

Mike spent about an hour with Mr Miskovic, talking through the advantages of robotics vs laparoscopic surgery and exactly how they would plan to remove the tumour. As soon as the appointment was over, Mike knew he wanted to go ahead with his surgery at The Wellington Hospital.


Comfortable and at ease

"When the surgery day came round, I must admit I was quite frightened of the whole experience," remembers Mike. "I’m a well-travelled, confident guy, but the lead up to my surgery was quite daunting. Being welcomed by the anaesthesia team and nurses made me feel a lot more comfortable and really helped to put me at ease before the surgery".

Mike underwent a robotic anterior resection of the colon and rectum, during which the tumour was successfully removed using keyhole instruments, inserted through tiny incisions. These instruments are attached to robotic arms that enable the surgeon to perform extremely accurate movements inside the patient’s abdomen. This allows for less bleeding and higher accuracy – especially important when treating cancer.

Mike woke up in recovery and spent the following days speaking to Mr Miskovic about how it all went.

"I was really pleased with how the surgery went," says Mr Miskovic. "Robotic surgery for colorectal cancer allows us to perform precise dissections and view the tumour through a three-dimensional surgical view. This helped us to eliminate any tremor and movement, giving us maximum control over the removal of the tumour and increasing the likelihood of successful surgery".

These benefits were certainly felt by Mike. "It felt like I hadn’t even had surgery," he remembers. "I felt healthy and had hardly any pain afterwards. I was even able to walk up and down the surgery ward on the Wednesday morning! I felt well enough to leave there and then, but the doctors assured me that it would be best to stay in the hospital until Thursday, just in case."

Post operation, Mike met Mr Miskovic for an initial follow-up, and was reassured to hear there were no infections or complications following his surgery. 

Feeling better than ever

Now feeling better than ever, Mike can’t believe how quickly his life has changed over the past couple of months.

"It was crazy to me how quickly my life has changed over the past couple of months," he says. "When I first received the diagnosis, I thought this would be an ongoing battle that may last years, but my surgery was sorted so quickly and I couldn’t be happier with how it all went."

Taking some time off work, Mike recently took a holiday to celebrate his successful treatment and is really looking forward to what his future holds and spending more quality time with his family.

"If anything, what I’ve learnt most is just how important it is to get regular health checks and how men shouldn’t be embarrassed to get themselves checked."

"I had no symptoms," Mike continues, "no health-related issues, and if it wasn’t for that annual health check, I would never have known I had this. Bowel cancer is a silent killer and I just wish my brother had gone to get himself checked out earlier as it may have saved his life too."

"I can’t thank Mr Miskovic and the team at The Wellington Hospital enough. I felt very well looked after and I was really impressed with how quickly they sorted my surgery. If there’s one takeaway from my experience, I encourage everyone and especially men to get themselves checked out. It’s such an easy process and it could save your life – don’t die of embarrassment."

Book an appointment

To book a consultation with The Colorectal & Robotic Surgery Centre, you can phone, email or use our “contact us” form.

Email: crsc@hcahealthcare.co.uk

Call:  +44 20 3214 3440
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