Merseyside man believed to be first patient to receive unique robotic surgery in the North West

John Boylett is recovering well after a rare six-and-a-half-hour synchronised robotic operation.

53-year-old John Boylett pictured in the Lake District earlier this month with his wife Susan and dog Hugo. Photo: LUHFT

A Merseyside man is believed to be first patient to undergo synchronised robotic surgery for bowel and prostate cancer in the North West.

John Boylett, 53, from Birkdale, underwent the rare six-and-a-half-hour synchronised robotic operation at Royal Liverpool University Hospital.

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The urology and colorectal teams at Liverpool University Hospital NHS Foundation Trust (LUHFT) worked together throughout Mr Boylett’s treatment.

LUHFT said that by operating on two parts of his body during the same procedure, John was able to recover quicker and was home within five days.

One of the surgeons who performed the operation said technology moved on so much it’s like ‘comparing a 1980s TV to one today’.

Diagnosis and treatment

Mr Boylett, a maintenance officer who lives with his wife Susan and 17-year-old son Thomas went to see his doctor in September 2021 after spotting blood in his stool.

John Boylett with his puppy Hugo. Photo: LUHFT

He said: “While I was at the doctors I also asked them to check my prostate-specific antigen (PSA) levels because my dad was diagnosed with prostate cancer when he was 81-years-old.

“I expected my PSA levels to be fine because I didn’t have any symptoms and I’m only 53, however my results showed that I had bowel cancer and also raised PSA levels, so there was a good chance I had prostate cancer too.

“My mind instantly went to worst-case scenarios because I had two types of cancer at the same time.

“I was referred to the Complex Pelvic Oncology Team and that’s where I met consultants Mr Ahmed and Mr Weston, who later performed my surgery together.”

As the first synchronised robotic low anterior resection and radical prostatectomy to be carried out within LUHFT, the Trust said the surgery was carefully planned a week ahead.

What’s been said

Colorectal consultant Mr Shakil Ahmed said: “Robotic surgery is a massive benefit to all our patients. There aren’t many centres in the UK that can offer this combined surgery. It requires a high level of expertise to operate the robotic machinery and complete the double procedure.

“It gives surgeons views inside a patient that you can’t see otherwise. I always explain to students it’s like comparing a 1980s TV to one today – the technology is just so much better. The robotic machinery improves the whole surgery for the patient and the surgeon.

“By working together John was able to go home after only five days, while the alternative would have been two separate operations with around 14 days in hospital, which could bring an increased risk of infection and recovery time.”

Consultants Mr Weston and Mr Ahmed with the Da Vinci robot. Photo: LUHFT

Sir David Dalton, interim chief executive at Liverpool University Hospitals, said: “This is an excellent example of our highly-skilled teams from different specialities coming together to improve cancer treatment and patient experience. This is another step towards our aspiration of making LUHFT a leading centre for Robotic-Assisted Surgery.”

‘Exciting to see new surgical procedures’

Genevieve Edwards, chief executive of Bowel Cancer UK, said: “Bowel cancer is the fourth most common cancer in the UK, someone is diagnosed with the disease every 15 minutes.

“Almost everyone diagnosed with bowel cancer will have surgery as part of their treatment so it’s exciting to see that new surgical procedures are being trialed to improve treatment and outcomes for patients.”

Recovery journey

Following his operation in January 2022, Mr Boylett is recovering well while awaiting his stoma reversal surgery.

He said: “My family was really anxious during the surgical procedure but having the synchronised robotic surgery to remove all my cancer was one hundred per cent the best option for me.

“I’m taking things easy but walking our new puppy, Hugo, has helped increase my exercise and has been good for my mental health too, which all helps my recovery.”