Robotic surgery 'saved woman's life' after cancer diagnosis

A woman says she believes robotic surgery saved her life after she was diagnosed with cancer.
A woman says she believes robotic surgery saved her life after she was diagnosed with cancer.

After undergoing the operation as well as chemotherapy, Deborah Speirs has now been given the all-clear

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A woman says she believes robotic surgery saved her life after she was diagnosed with cancer.

Deborah Speirs, from the Tolllcross area of Glasgow, opted for the “innovative” procedure rather than traditional surgery after being told she had stage three bowel cancer in March 2021.

After undergoing the operation – as well as chemotherapy – she has now been given the all-clear.

She said: “In what was a very traumatic and difficult time for me and my family, I genuinely think that robotic surgery has saved my life.”

More than 60 doctors across NHS Scotland are trained in the use of robotic surgery, with 15 machines in operation.

The da Vinci robotic systems used have four arms which can hold a camera as well as surgical tools, with a surgeon operating these from a console in the operating theatre.

The robots give surgeons a greater range of motion than in traditional surgery, with the precision they give bringing quicker recovery times, with shorter stays in hospital for patients.

Ms Speirs said: “When you are told you are diagnosed with cancer, it takes a while for this to really sink in as you never think it is going to happen to you.”

After having the procedure explained to her in detail, she was happy to go ahead with the robotic surgery, saying: “The technology is amazing and I was up and walking around in a matter of days after my surgery.

“I wanted to start hoovering when I got home from hospital but my daughter made sure I rested up. It just shows you how great this is for recovery.”

Deborah Speirs (second right) who opted for robotic surgery, with her daughter Antonia (left) father Thomas (second left) and partner Paul (right).
Deborah Speirs (second right) who opted for robotic surgery, with her daughter Antonia (left) father Thomas (second left) and partner Paul (right).

Prof Roxburgh said: “Robotic surgery has already shown huge improvements in patient care and recovery times.”

He stressed that the surgeon “still has absolute control of everything that is going on”, explaining that the medic uses a console that controls the instruments.

Prof Roxburgh said with robotic surgery “we have seen a halving in the length of time patients are required to stay in hospital in comparison to conventional key hole surgery as it is less invasive.

“In addition to this, it helps reduce complications, imaging assessments, blood transfusions, readmission rates and infections.

“Deborah is just one example of a number of successful surgeries using this type of equipment.”