Bowel cancer patient found out spread to liver after op was cancelled

Bowel cancer patient, 53, who was due to have tumours removed on the first day of lockdown found out the disease spread to his liver after his operation was cancelled due to Covid-19

  • Szabolc, 53, who lives in the UK, was diagnosed with bowel cancer in February 
  • Uni lecturer was due to have surgery to remove tumours on first day of lockdown
  • Operation was cancelled due to Covid-19 and he found out cancer spread to liver

A 53-year-old bowel cancer patient who was due to have his tumours removed on the first day of lockdown has revealed he found out the disease spread to his liver after the operation was cancelled due to Covid-19.

Tonight’s emotional episode of BBC2’s Hospital features Szabolc, 53, a university lecturer who lives in the UK, who was diagnosed with bowel cancer back in February. He was due to have surgery to remove his tumours on the first day of lockdown.

‘At the end of March there was a planned operation that would’ve been a bowel operation,’ he explains. ‘That was cancelled because of Covid.’ 

But in the time since he was waiting for that operation, Szabolc found out his cancer had spread to his liver.

‘All these waits and delayed – maybe that’s had some affect on my health,’ says Szabolc, who can be seen being treated at The Princess Grace hospital in central London, which is being used to treat some of the Royal Free Trust’s most urgent cancer patient.

Tonight’s emotional episode of BBC2’s Hospital features Szabolc (pictured), 53, who lives in the UK, who was diagnosed with bowel cancer back in February

The university lecturer was due to have surgery to remove his tumours on the first day of lockdown, but it was cancelled due to Covid-19

Szabolc arrived at the Royal Free once a scan showed cancer had appeared in his liver.

‘The royal free hospital still doesn’t have enough capacity to offer all kinds of patients surgery there – but luckily through the private sector hospital we can offer Szabolc an operation today,’ explains consultant liver and transplant surgeon, Professor Joerg Matthias Pollock.

Szabolc’s wife Natasa adds: ‘We’ve been together 15-16 years. I’m very worried of course – it’s not an easy operation. 

‘It’s a difficult procedure. It’s been eight months now and it’s a long journey. I just hope everything works out well. I’m not thinking any further than that at the moment.’

in the time since he was waiting for that operation, Szabolc (pictured) found out his cancer had spread to his liver

Speaking of the operation, Szabolc’s wife Natasa (pictured) reveals she’s ‘very worried’ because it’s not straightforward 

NHS liver surgeon Joerg Matthias has over 20 years experience of treating the most complex cancers. He is tasked with removing two tumours in Szabolc’s liver to halt the spread of the cancer.

‘We will be removing roughly 15% of the live tissues,’ he explains, before he is seen using an ultrasound scan to locate the tumours.

‘The darker, grey structure on imaging,’ the surgeon explains. ‘You can see there’s one lesion here, and there’s another one there. I’m not sure yet whether we have more lesions that we expected. I think we have four in total.

‘This would mean the cancer has spread further, but the intention of surgery to cure the disease will still remain the same.’     

He continues: ‘Here you can see what the cancer looks like. It’s that cauliflower-appearing tissue. I think we have got them all.’ 

Instead of removing 15% of the liver as planned, Joerg Matthias reveals how he is forced to take out 55% – meaning Szabolc faces a far longer recovery. 

Instead of removing 15% of the liver as planned, Joerg Matthias reveals how he is forced to take out 55% – meaning Szabolc (pictured) faces a far longer recovery

At the end of the episode, it’s revealed that Szabolc’s (pictured) cancer has spread again and that he’s waiting for another major operation

As Szabolc comes round following his procedure, the surgeon explains to him: ‘So everything is fine. We were expecting to find two lesions, but we found four lesions, so we did a much bigger operation than we thought. But it’s good that we found them all and that they’re all out.’ 

‘So your primary cancer which is still there can potentially still send cells, but we know that everything we could feel and see has been stopped.’

Speaking to the camera from his hospital bed, an emotional Szabolc breaks down in tears and says: ‘I’m pleased he’s confident they have everything out related to the liver, but there might be some more spreading which makes me a bit nervous. I don’t have the energy to think about it.’ 

Over the next few days, Szabolc remains in intensive care to recuperate.

However, at the end of the episode, it’s revealed that Szabolc’s cancer has spread again and that he’s waiting for another major operation. 

Hospital airs tonight on BBC2 at 9pm.  

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