Super Surgeons - Q&A with Professor Vinidh Paleri
Professor Vinidh Paleri features in the new Channel 4 documentary, Super Surgeons - A Chance at Life, and is one of the leading head and neck surgeons in the country.
The Royal Marsden’s Consultant Head and Neck Surgeon, Professor Vinidh Paleri, is one of the leading head and neck surgeons in the country. He is also one of the few surgeons in the UK with expertise in robotic surgery for head and neck cancers.
Professor Paleri performs complex surgeries on head and neck cancer (cancers arising from the mouth, throat, voice box, the swallowing passage, thyroid gland, salivary gland and the skull base.) He was the first surgeon in the UK to perform salvage robotic resections and robotic free flap reconstructions in the head and neck.
Professor Paleri features across the three Super Surgeons episodes.
In episode 1, viewers follow Vin as he uses the charity funded Da Vinci Xi surgical robot to conduct a surgery that has never been done before, to try and save his patient’s voice as she receives treatment for throat cancer.
How long have you worked at The Royal Marsden?
“I joined The Royal Marsden in 2017. I wanted to work at The Royal Marsden for one simple reason: the opportunity to continuously push the scientific envelope while seamlessly delivering care to some of the most complex clinical cases."
What made you want to get into this area of medicine?
“As a medical student, I enjoyed the complexity of the anatomy in the head and neck. For instance, the whole of the inner ear that hosts the hearing and balance organ is about the size of two pence coin! This led me into specialising in Ear, Nose and Throat surgery. Within this specialist field, I found that caring for cancer patients was by far the most fulfilling part of my training."
How did you find filming the documentary?
“The filming was a fascinating experience, and, on a personal level, I enjoyed it far more than I expected to. I liked the way the film crew followed the patients on every aspect of their journey at The Royal Marsden. The biggest stars were all the patients who allowed themselves to be filmed – an incredible act of bravery and kindness.”
Why did you want to be part of the series and what was your favourite part of being involved?
“The Royal Marsden specialises in the management of recurrent and complex cancers. I wanted to give people watching the documentary hope that if cancer comes back, it is not time to give up – there are treatments available.”
“As surgeons, we are a part of a multidisciplinary team. Our colleagues include nurses, speech and language therapists, dietitians, junior doctors and anaesthetists, among countless other professionals who all play an invaluable role in patient care. The opportunity to depict and emphasise the multidisciplinary working in the documentary has by far been my favourite part of the process."
How is the da Vinci Xi robot changing cancer surgery?
The da Vinci robots provide a magnified 3D view inside the patient and allow surgeons to make microscopic incisions with greater accuracy and control than ever before. The accuracy of the robots means surgeons can also operate on tumours that would have been hard to reach or were previously inoperable. Being able to offer these surgeries has meant an incredible difference to the patient’s quality of life after surgery.
The dual consoles of the da Vinci Xi also mean The Royal Marsden can run the Charity funded Robotic Surgery Fellowship, which is training the surgeons of the future.
Surgeons performing robotically assisted surgery require specialised training. But thanks to the dual console of the da Vinci Xi – which allows consultants to supervise trainees during live surgery, at no risk to the patient – The Royal Marsden is training future robotic surgeons through the UK’s first cross-speciality robotic fellowship programme. This training programme has been funded through supporters of The Royal Marsden Cancer Charity.
How has The Royal Marsden Cancer Charity supported your work?
We wouldn’t be able to do what we do without the fantastic support of The Royal Marsden Cancer Charity. The Charity has funded two da Vinci Xi robots, one through a generous gift from the late philanthropist Don McCarthy and his children. This support has enabled The Royal Marsden to become the most comprehensive centre for robotic cancer surgery in the UK, ensuring patients with urological, gynaecological, head and neck, gastrointestinal and colorectal cancers have access to the latest techniques and technology.
Thanks to The Royal Marsden Cancer Charity last year we also opened the world’s first International Centre for Recurrent Head & Neck Cancer (IReC). We have an ambitious aim to create a centre of international excellence and set international standards in the curative treatment of recurrent head and neck cancers.”
Your support helps the teams at The Royal Marsden go even further for people with cancer.