NEW DELHI: Six months ago, Champa Lal developed stomach pain that he presumed to be a case of acidity. The Bikaner resident tried antacids and home remedies, but his stomach kept bloating and there came a point when he started to look like a pregnant woman.
The 62-year-old then approached Sir Ganga Ram hospital (SGRH) in New Delhi where doctors operated on him recently to find a large tumour — nearly the weight of four newborns — inside his stomach.
“The weighing machine in the operation theatre can weigh only up to 10kg. The tumour was way heavier than that,” Dr Ushast Dhir, consultant, department of liver transplant and surgical gastroenterology, told TOI while sharing the pictures of the large muscle mass that was removed intact. It was cancerous and, Dr Dhir said, it must have grown very fast. “The tumour was a differential liposarcoma — a rare type of cancer that begins in the fat cells. If it wasn’t removed intact, and in time, the patient would not have lived for long,” he said.
The stomach is a sac-like organ that lies between the oesophagus and the small intestine. It is part of the abdomen that contains other organs like the liver, kidneys, intestine, appendix and blood vessels.
In Lal’s case, CT scan showed that the tumour had grown so big that it occupied 80% of space in the stomach. The other organs were displaced. For example, the liver, which is usually on the right side of the chest, had been pushed upwards and the intestines to the left side of his body. The tumour was also putting pressure on the main blood vessels, which help get blood to and fro from heart. Removing it in parts wasn’t an option. Therefore, the hospital formed a team of anaesthetists, urologists, cardiologists and gastrointestinal surgeons to perform the surgery. Preparation itself took about one and a half hours.
After that, Dr Dhir said, they made a large lateral incision on the abdominal surface to operated inside. “But the tumour was so big that we realised that it won’t be enough to remove the muscle mass without damaging the vital organs and their blood supply. So, another horizontal incision was made,” the doctor said.
Thereafter, the process to separate the tumour from liver and its blood supply, intestines, right kidney and ureter was completed. “There was no major blood loss because everything was done slowly and to perfection,” the doctors said.
When Lal developed the symptoms of tumour inside his stomach, which he then felt were caused by acidity, he always felt bloated and was not able to eat. Dr Dhir said a week after surgery they would joke with him how the 62-year-old must be feeling empty after delivering four babies. “To our knowledge, this is the largest liposarcoma removed intact,” he said.