Woman with rare tumour operated on at Adyar Cancer Institute

In the clear: P. Mahalakshmi, third from left, who was recently treated for a rare cancerous tumour, with the surgeons who treated her at Cancer Institute, Adyar.   | Photo Credit: M. Karunakaran

P. Mahalakshmi, 26, had been suffering from severe pain in her back for six months. She sought medical help near her residence at Pounjur in Chengalpattu district.

She resigned her job as a machine operator in a private firm as the pain was excruciating. Her husband is an agricultural labourer. When medicines did not help, a biopsy was done and it revealed a cancerous tumour that had advanced into the kidney and intestine. She was administered concurrent chemotherapy and radiation from August to December 2020 without relief. “Doctors there referred me to Cancer Institute in Chennai for treatment,” said the mother of two.

She managed to come to the Institute in mid-January and investigation revealed that she was suffering from condrosarcoma.

“She had increased pain and was unable to walk. The tumour was invading the L3 vertebra. It spread to the kidney, intestine, duodenum, inferior vena cava and colon. We did sagittal en bloc spondylectomy,” said Anand Raja, consultant urosurgeon who led a team of seven doctors that operated on her.

Doctors held long discussions on the surgery that was performed earlier this month. Since only the right half of the vertebra was affected one-third of the vertebra was preserved to ensure spinal stability, he said.

“Chondrosarcoma arises from the bone. The tumour was a huge mass and had developed from L3 vertebra and spread through the abdomen. It involved blood vessels, intestine, right ureter and kidney. One affected kidney had to be removed,” Dr. Raja said.

“We explained to the patient the risks involved in the surgery as the vertebra would be exposed and an injury to nerves could result in loss of movement,” he said. “The patient was motivated enough and gave us the confidence to go ahead.”

Head of anaesthesia Kalpana Balakrishnan said the 17-hour surgery began around 9 a.m. and ended around 1.30 a.m. the next day. The patient had suffered excessive blood loss during surgery and was on ventilator support for a day. Five days after the surgery, she was provided physiotherapy. “She is completely cured. The biopsy results show that all margins of possibility of recurrence is low,” he said.

Ms. Mahalakshmi is able to walk and is not on medication.

Head of surgical oncology Arvind Kishnamurthy said the bone cancer was a form of solid cancer. Condrosarcoma does not respond to chemotherapy and radiation.

“This is a rare cancer as normally cancers spread from other organs to bones. We have done our best to remove the tumour. The message is that surgery, though old, is still the gold standard for such cancers,” he said.

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Printable version | Dec 9, 2021 11:33:39 AM |

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