Surgeons have removed a “huge” tumor the size of a four-and-a-half month old baby from a woman’s stomach. The patient was later removed the entire abdomen after she continued to suffer from the symptoms that were to be treated with the first surgery.
The unnamed 70-year-old woman from Great Britain had a rare cancer, a so-called gastrointestinal giant tumor in the gastrointestinal tract, according to a case study published in the magazine BMJ Case Reports.
Before surgery, the woman complained of a swollen abdomen, nausea after meals and weight loss without trying.
When the surgeons cut open the woman, they discovered a “huge mass” that weighed 6.1 kg or about the average weight of a four-and-a-half-month-old female baby. The tumor was located in the lower half of the woman’s stomach.
About two months after the operation, the woman suffered again from a swollen stomach and vomited. For examination, the doctors inserted a camera into the woman’s throat and stomach. They noticed that her stomach was distended and filled with leftover food.
The woman was diagnosed with gastroparesis, in which the stomach cannot be emptied in the usual way because the nerves and muscles in the organ are damaged and partially paralyzed.
After 10 days of treatment the symptoms did not disappear and her doctors decided that a total gastrectomy was the best treatment. In this operation the entire stomach is removed, as well as lymph nodes, parts of the esophagus and small intestine. In order for the patient to continue eating, the surgeons connect the esophagus with the small intestine.
A total gastrectomy is a life-changing procedure, which often means that the person loses the desire to eat for some time. It can take up to two years for the body to get used to not having a stomach anymore. Initially, patients are advised to eat six to eight small meals a day. This can result in patients losing up to 20 percent of their body weight up to six months after surgery.
The woman in the BMJ study recovered fully after her stomach was removed, and after six months there was no sign that her cancer had returned.
The woman said that about eight months after the stomach removal, she ate a little more, but sometimes had no appetite.
“I am now able to do more activities and walk longer. I feel better inside myself,” she said.