New N&N Surgeon Brings Pioneering Op to East Anglian Liver Cancer Patients

The Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital (NNUH) has appointed a new specialist liver surgeon who is undertaking pioneering operations for East Anglian patients with cancer of the liver and pancreas.

Simon Wemyss-Holden, 39, a consultant hepato-biliary and laproscopic surgeon, is bringing new and innovative advances in liver surgery to the region. Mr Wemyss-Holden has joined the hospital from Leicester and has previously spent a number of years working in Australia.

He is the only surgeon in East Anglia who is performing laparoscopic (keyhole) liver operations, which have considerable benefits for patients as it can dramatically reduce their stay in hospital from about 2 weeks down to just two days as they recover far more quickly than with more invasive surgery and are likely to have fewer post-operative complications.

Mrs Violet Taylor, of Oulton Broad, near Lowestoft, recently underwent keyhole surgery on a cancerous tumour of her liver. Keyhole surgery is not always appropriate for liver cancers, but fortunately it was for Mrs Taylor. With traditional surgery, she would have been likely to spend up to 14 days in hospital, a recovery spell in critical care, and a higher risk of dangerous complications. After keyhole surgery however Mrs Taylor was able to go home the following morning and returned to work later that week.

“I have had an operation for bowel cancer before and I was in hospital for five weeks for that, so I was nervous about another operation. This time I went in on the Sunday, had the operation on the Monday and was home on the Tuesday and I had no pain. I would definitely recommend it.”

Another new development in liver cancer surgery that Mr Wemyss-Holden brings to East Anglia is a technique developed in France. By removing several relatively small sections of the liver at one time, rather than the more drastic surgery of completely removing one or other half of the liver, he is able to offer potentially curative surgery to patients who may otherwise have been incurable.

For the past seven years, the Norwich liver surgeon has also been developing an experimental technique for destroying liver tumours located too close to blood vessels for surgery. The procedure involves inserting two electrodes into the tumour and passing a small electrical charge between them – resulting in a chemical change in the tumour cells that kills them off.

“I am very pleased and excited to be working in Norwich and I have been impressed by the excellent facilities at NNUH. The most important thing for me is to use my skills and experience to help patients with cancer of the liver or pancreas and I look forward to working with my colleagues here and with local GPs to develop these services.”

Media contact: Andrew Stronach at NNUH on 01603 287200.

Tuesday 16th of March 2004 04:00:49 PM