Published on December 12, 2018

New Lenox Man Beats Kidney Cancer with Robotic Surgery at Silver Cross Hospital

Earlier this year, Tom Welsh, a talented musician who also happens to be a Silver Cross Hospital volunteer, noticed an uncomfortable ache in his back. When it persisted for more than a week, he made a visit to the hospital’s emergency department.

man at desk smiling

“I thought maybe I had a kidney stone,” the 72-year-old New Lenox resident explains. “Little did I know I was about to get a life-changing cancer diagnosis.”

Welsh got the news after a CT scan found a large mass on one of his kidneys. He was referred to urologist Thai Nguyen, M.D., a specialist in robotic surgical treatment of kidney and prostate cancer, and Medical Director of the Midwest Institute for Robotic Surgery at Silver Cross. Surgeons at the Institute have performed more robotic surgeries than anyone else in the Chicago area.

“Robotic-assisted surgery is a powerful tool for treating kidney cancer,” Dr. Nguyen said. “One important factor in deciding which patients need robotic kidney cancer surgery is the stage of their disease or how advanced it is.

“In Mr. Welsh’s case, the high-definition 3D camera views gave me the clearest view of his tumor,” he continued. “The robot’s precision reduces the risk of leaving any part of the tumor behind – and increases the amount of healthy kidney tissue I can leave in place.”

For Welsh, robotic surgery was all the cancer treatment he needed; chemotherapy or radiation weren’t necessary.

The navigation-guided robotic system allows the surgeon to control the movement of the surgical tools with high precision. This means better outcomes for the patient, decreased risk for complications, a shorter hospital stay, and less pain and scarring.

A short recovery time was important to Tom. The active retiree plays drums in local brass and marching bands, rides his bicycle, enjoys spending time with his family, and volunteers at the main desk at Silver Cross Hospital.

“It was a relief to know there would be little interruption to my lifestyle, especially getting back to playing drums with my fellow bandmates. Seven days after my surgery, Dr. Nguyen said I could return to riding my bicycle!” he said with a smile.

As for volunteering at the same hospital that helped provide life-saving cancer treatment, he said “I am so thankful how the hospital cared for me when I needed it most. People don’t realize how the whole staff work as a team to provide excellent care – from Dr. Nguyen and his surgical team to all the nurses and staff at Silver Cross Hospital.”

About Kidney Cancer

Kidney cancer is among the 10 most common cancers in both men and women; the average age of diagnosis is 64. Unfortunately, it rarely causes symptoms in its earliest stages. In later stages, signs and symptoms include blood in the urine that may appear pink, red or cola-colored; pain in the back or side that won’t go away; loss of appetite; unexplained weight loss; tiredness; and intermittent fever.

Make an appointment with your doctor if you have persistent signs or symptoms.

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Physicians on Silver Cross Hospital’s Medical Staff have expertise in their areas of practice to meet the needs of patients seeking their care. These physicians are independent practitioners on the Medical Staff and are not the agents or employees of Silver Cross Hospital. They treat patients based upon their independent medical judgment and they bill patients separately for their services.