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robotic surgery

"Robotic surgery was remarkable"

Robotic surgery to remove a tumour from the tongue of Royal Marsden patient Dr James Goodman meant only a short hospital stay and minimal scarring.

James Goodman

Dr James Goodman, a retired GP, was first diagnosed with squamous cell cancer of the tonsil -a form of head and neck cancer- in 2016.

James said: “I didn’t have much in the way of symptoms, aside from a lump on the side of my neck that I thought was related to some dental problems. However I noticed it was growing very slowly in size and getting worse, so that’s when I went to my doctors.’

Following his diagnosis, Dr Goodman had chemotherapy and radiotherapy at his local hospital. Unfortunately the treatment he received was not curative, and he suffered from various side effects, including a weight loss of nine stone.

In May 2018 he was referred to The Royal Marsden with a recurrent tumour at the base of his tongue.

Dr Goodman became a patient of Professor Vinidh Paleri, a Consultant Head and Neck Surgeon at The Royal Marsden and pioneer of robotic surgery for head and neck cancers.

Professor Paleri was incredible. He spent about 50 minutes talking through everything, and I felt incredibly reassured. I knew that I was in the very best hands. To be home after six days is quite remarkable. Robotic surgery is massively beneficial for patients.

Professor Paleri and his team used the da Vinci Xi surgical robot to operate on the hard-to-reach area. The procedure involved using three robotic arms through the mouth to access the back of the tongue. This surgical robotic system at the hospital was funded thanks to the generous supporters of The Royal Marsden Cancer Charity.

The procedure took just a few hours compared with the traditional method, where the jaw is split open to get to the tumour, which can take 12 hours and mean weeks of painful recovery in hospital. James was able to avoid having major scarring and was back at home in just six days.