A teenage boy at Evelina London Children’s Hospital has had the first robotic surgery for testicular cancer on a child in the UK – and was back playing with his friends within a few weeks.
Hugo Pattison, 14, had the surgery to remove lymph nodes from the back of his abdomen. He was diagnosed with cancer in February this year and had already had a tumour removed, as well as several rounds of chemotherapy.
Normal surgery would have meant a recovery time of about six months – which would have been hard for Hugo, for whom playing cricket with friends is very important.
So the cancer team at Guy’s and St Thomas’ undertook a “huge team effort” to perform the first operation of this kind on a child in the UK. Evelina London is part of Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS trust.
The surgery, which seems to have been a success, “paves the way” for more operations like it, according to Ben Challacombe, consultant urological surgeon and clinical robotic surgery lead at Guy’s and St Thomas’.
He added: “Removing abdominal lymph nodes is a tricky procedure as they’re positioned next to the main artery by the spine, and blood vessels that supply the kidneys. Using robotic surgery allows for enhanced precision in removing targeted areas.
“It was a huge team effort to make Hugo’s surgery happen, bringing a specialist clinical team over from Guy’s Hospital and designing new clinical protocols as not all adult surgical procedures are available for paediatrics. This five hour operation was an excellent collaboration of surgeons, anaesthetists and nurses across Guy’s and St Thomas’ and Evelina London. Hugo’s surgery paves the way for the future of paediatric robotic surgery.”
Hugo’s dad Arthur Pattison said: “We knew Hugo’s surgery needed to go ahead but the risks and the recovery time for major open surgery didn’t sit well with us. Hugo’s sport and his interaction with his coaches and teammates is incredibly important to him. We were already conscious of how much of this interaction he had missed through lockdown and then through his chemotherapy treatment. We were determined to minimise the disruption to Hugo’s summer of sport and outdoor physical activity. For us, this is such an important part of his mental wellbeing.
“We felt Ben and his team really addressed Hugo’s concerns around open surgery. We were supported every step of the journey. Having robotic surgery allowed Hugo to walk out of hospital just two days after his surgery and he was back playing cricket with his teammates just three weeks later.”
Hugo Pattison said: “I feel incredibly lucky to be the first young patient to undergo robotic surgery at Evelina London. I am so relieved to have avoided the significant scarring and recovery time that would have come from open surgery. Hopefully this means that other children can receive this procedure in the future.”
The procedure removed two large lymph nodes and biopsies of the surrounding 31 nodes showed no cancer.
Arthur added: “Hugo has now received the all clear from his consultants. There is currently no evidence of any cancer remaining. We are absolutely delighted with this news and we are so thankful to all the care teams who have helped Hugo through his journey with testicular cancer. Hugo is now rehabilitating himself back to full fitness and is looking forward to a fun-filled summer of sport.”
Testicular cancer typically affects men aged 15 to 40. If you or your child has concerns or symptoms that might be testicular cancer, please speak to your GP.