News story posted 18 November 2022

A 75-year-old woman from north Wales has had an operation to remove part of her bowel and part of her vagina carried out by a robot.

Jean Lloyd, a retired sewing factory worker from Wrexham had the surgery to remove a bowel cancer tumour at The Christie. Her operation is the first recorded case in the UK – and is likely to be one of only a handful in the world – of robotic surgery to remove part of the bowel and vagina.

Jean was first diagnosed with bowel cancer in October 2021. She said that she’d known something wasn’t right for a while, but she kept putting off going to her GP. Jean hadn’t wanted to go to her GP as her husband was being treated for bladder cancer at the time.

Finally, Jean went to her GP about her problems, and found out she had bowel cancer. Sadly, her husband died just a couple of months after she got her diagnosis.

Jean had radiotherapy and chemotherapy at her local hospital for her bowel cancer. The treatment helped but she still needed surgery to remove the tumour near her tailbone. Her doctor referred her to The Christie for specialist surgery.

As part of the operation, she had the top part of her bowel and part of her vagina removed by a robot controlled by her surgeon. The sacrum (a small bone located above the tailbone) was also removed but not by a robot.

The surgery took around 10 hours. Jean’s multidisciplinary team included a colorectal and robotic surgeon and a plastic surgeon to reconstruct the peritoneal flap.

The Christie has one of the most comprehensive colorectal and peritoneal oncology services in the country and the surgery wouldn’t have been possible without the expertise of the multidisciplinary team at the specialist cancer centre in Greater Manchester.

The operation was successful, and Jean is currently showing no evidence of disease.

“I always felt like I was in safe hands at The Christie, so when Mr Selvasekar told me that I was going to be having part of my surgery done by a robot, I wasn’t fazed at all,” said Jean.

“Having a big operation is never easy, but I’m fully recovered now and am back to living a relatively normal life. I wouldn’t be here without my team at The Christie. I can’t thank them enough for what they’ve done for me.”

Mr Chelliah Selvasekar, consultant colorectal and robotic surgeon at The Christie, said: “Doing this sort of surgery robotically isn’t always possible, but Jean’s cancer was localised and sitting quite low down in the abdomen, which made using the robot easier. Open surgery can take a long time to recover from, but the recovery time for robotic surgery is a lot quicker, which is fantastic for the patient.
“The Christie is one of only a small number of centres in the country that could perform a complex operation like this. Jean is a wonderful woman and I’m happy to say that she is showing no evidence of disease at the moment.”